Francoeur returning to Phillies a possibility

Free-agent outfielder provided veteran leadership for club in 2015

Francoeur returning to Phillies a possibility

PHILADELPHIA -- Jeff Francoeur made his feelings about the Phillies pretty clear late last season.

He would love to return for at least another year.

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But will Francoeur be back? And if not him, who?

Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock declined to comment on negotiations with Francoeur, citing a memo from the Commissioner's Office regarding free agency.

"I really don't have anything to report," Proefrock said. "But one thing I can speak about is the job Jeff did for us last year and how valuable he was in the clubhouse. He was a good fit as a veteran who understood his role and he was a great influence on our young players."

But while sources said the Phillies remain interested in Francoeur, they are exploring other options. They are not expected to be in the running for free-agent outfielders like Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon, who will receive the most lucrative multiyear deals this offseason. But other everyday and part-time outfielders like Chris Young, Ryan Raburn, David Murphy, Rajai Davis, Alejandro De Aza and Justin Ruggiano might be a fit.

Francoeur hit .258 with 16 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 45 RBIs and a .718 OPS in 343 plate appearances last season. Off the field, he established himself as a sorely needed vocal leader.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has said a positive culture in the clubhouse is important to him, but the potential for more production offensively from other outfielders might outweigh that.

Certainly the free-agent market has been slow moving to this point, so nothing is imminent, but eventually the Phillies are expected to add at least one veteran outfielder to the 40-man roster because they have too many question marks in the outfield. Whether or not that veteran is Francoeur remains to be seen.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.