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Rangers acquire outfielder Francoeur

Rangers acquire outfielder Francoeur

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KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers have acquired right-handed hitting outfielder Jeff Francoeur from the Mets for infielder Joaquin Arias, who was designated for assignment last week.

Francoeur is a career right fielder who went into Tuesday's game hitting .236 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs in 123 games and 398 at-bats. He had a .293 on-base percentage and a .369 slugging percentage. He is hitting .198 with four home runs and 19 RBI in 187 at-bats over his last 61 games

"We're not asking him to be an everyday starter and a prominent producer," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "We just want him to play a more complementary role."

By being acquired before Tuesday's 11 p.m. (CT) deadline, Francoeur is eligible to be on the Rangers' postseason roster and he gives them a right-handed hitting outfielder for the playoffs if needed. The Rangers will also get cash considerations in the deal. To make room on the roster, the Rangers designated outfielder Brandon Boggs for assignment.

"We are looking at the composition of our 25-man roster, specifically the outfield in relationship to being predominately left-handed," Levine said. "This allows us to pick our spots with David Murphy and Julio Borbon and platoon them against tougher left-handed pitchers. This gives us a more balanced offense."

Against left-handed pitchers, Francoeur went into Tuesday night's game hitting .278 off them with three home runs and 12 RBIs. That included a .355 on-base percentage and a .412 slugging percentage.

"I think the thing I'm happy about is I feel comfortable at the plate right now going out there, and that's a good thing," said Francoeur. "Two or three weeks ago, four weeks ago, I wasn't feeling that great. But the way I feel now, offensively, defensively, I feel like I can go out there and try to help them some."

David Murphy went into Tuesday's game hitting .290 against left-handers with one home run and 13 RBIs in 100 at-bats. He had a .345 on-base percentage and a .400 slugging percentage.

"It's just a more conventional to have a right-handed bat to face some of the tough left-handers we're facing," Levine said. "This just gives [manager Ron Washington] a chance to match up late in the game and do more things."

Francoeur is the fifth Major League player the Rangers have acquired in the past two months. That list also includes catcher Bengie Molina, pitcher Cliff Lee and infielders Cristian Guzman and Jorge Cantu.

The Rangers have been trying to find a right-handed bat for an extended period of time and acquired Cantu from the Marlins just before the Trade Deadline. But he is hitting .211 (12-for-57) in 18 games and has yet to drive in a run.

They claimed Manny Ramirez off waivers last week but lost out to the White Sox, who had a worse record and submitted a prior claim. The Rangers asked about Mike Lowell with the Red Sox but were told he was not available.

Lowell can play first and third base. With the exception of two late-inning appearances in center field in 2006, Francoeur has never played any other position except right field in his five-year Major League career. His throwing ability from the outfield has long been considered among the best in the game.

He was a rising star for the Braves in 2006-07, driving in over 100 runs in his first two full seasons in the big leagues. But he dropped to 71 RBIs in 2008 and 76 RBIs last season while being traded from the Braves to the Mets. Francoeur, 26, is making $5 million this season and can not be a free agent until after the 2011 season. The Mets would have likely non-tendered him in the offseason.

Arias played sparingly for the Rangers this year, hitting .276 in 50 games and 98 at-bats with a .290 on-base percentage and a .347 slugging percentage. At one point he was the Rangers' second utility infielder behind Andres Blanco but they have since acquired Cristian Guzman and Alex Cora.

"It's exciting because I'm getting an opportunity to go to a team that's obviously well on the way to the playoffs. Hopefully they continue to play with that. But it's kind of bittersweet," said Francoeur.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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