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The many uniform changes of Jeff Francoeur

One 32-year-old man has worn the colors of eight teams in 12 years.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Gold Glove winner, NL Rookie of the Year second-runner-upper, and two-time 162 game-player Jeff Francoeur has gotten a lot of interest over the years.

He is baseball’s 32-year-old potato, being flipped, fried, and flung from team to team as the headliner in a series of low key deals meant to “increase depth” or “provide veteran leadership” or, earlier in his career, “do well and help the team.”

Francoeur is not everyone’s favorite player. There’s a contributor to this Deadspin post who says he once drove seven hours to Turner Field for the sole purpose of booing him. But you can’t say the man hasn’t stirred interest in his services for many, many years, despite a career .261/.303/.417 slash line and a dedication to hitting into double plays. Just last night, he was the center piece in yet another deal that sent him to his eighth team in six years.

Let’s take a look back at the many deals in which Francoeur has been involved and the magic he’s conjured along the way.

July 10, 2009: Traded from the Braves to the Mets

Mets career: .268/.311/.423, 21 HR, 291 SO in 690 AB

Over on The Good Phight, we recently celebrated what was referred to as “the zenith of the Phillies' absolute psychological ownership of the Mets in the 2007-2011 era.” When Eric Bruntlett cut the throat of a potential Mets rally in the bottom of the ninth inning with an unassisted triple play, it was Francoeur who could only stand on the first base line, hands on his hips, wondering what sort of god would allow this to happen.

As a member of the “Let-down” Mets of the mid-2000s, a nickname I just made up, Francoeur was a clubhouse leader and often a chief spokesman. The Phillies/Mets rivalry was at its best for about two or three seasons, and while New York imploded, twice, and the Phillies went on to the World Series, twice, it was Francoeur who brought hope to the Mets and pointed things out such as how the Phillies weren’t suffering through the same volume of injuries that the Mets had incurred. Just listen to how excited David Wright had been to meet him.

Wright was excited how the Mets offense seemed to awake from its first-half slumber, how the addition of Jeff Francoeur could revitalize the Mets lineup in the second half and how he is confident that the long-awaited run at the Phillies will materialize with the return of the Mets walking wounded.

Mmm.

It didn’t materialize. After arriving in New York hot hot hot and filling the team with confidence, Frenchy finished 2009 hitting .311 in 75 games. The .237 BA he put up for the entirety of 2008 pretty much spoiled that confidence.

August 31, 2010: Traded from the Mets with cash to the Rangers

Rangers career: .340/.357/.491, 2 HR, 5 SO in 53 AB

Supposed to be a difference-maker in Flushing, the Mets swapped out Francoeur in the last stages of a not-playoff year, a move his Frenchy-sense had picked up on far in advance.

"Obviously they see that I don't fit in the plans next year here," Francoeur said. "We all saw that coming the last two, three weeks especially. They're giving me an opportunity and taking care of me. And to that I could forever be grateful for."

Jeff Francoeur can simply sense when it is time to move to his next team; there is something in the air, something about the order of the celestial beings that tells him he is not long for his current team. At that point, he simply waits for the executives to catch up and inform him of the inevitable change. Usually they are weeping and, I assume, he reaches across the desk and places a comforting hand on theirs, whispering, “It’s okay. It’s okay.

And it was okay. For Francoeur, at least. Used primarily for his defensive prowess—the man had a cannon from the outfield—he won an American League pennant with the Rangers before losing the World Series to a team that, you guessed it, would eventually become one of his employers.

December 8, 2010: Signed as a Free Agent with the Royals

Royals career: .254/.301/.414, 39 HR, 291 SO in 1345 AB

The Royals gave Francoeur $2.5 million to play in their outfield in 2010, and then the next year gave him $13.5 million more to keep playing for them until 2013. He made it until June 30, 2013 before being DFA’d. He was 4-for-27 that month with 10 SO.

July 9, 2013: Signed as a Free Agent with the Giants

Giants career: .194/.206/.226, 0 HR, 12 SO in 62 AB

The Giants brought Francoeur in in early July. By late August, they had seen enough. Notice of his designation for assignment blinked onto the MLB official transactions page, and it seemed as though the second career renaissance for which Francoeur, and the Giants, had been hoping, was over. Some people saw the move as fairly detrimental.

But the truth was, Frenchy was tired, the Giants were in the throes of burning out during one of their few non-fairy tale seasons in recent memory, and everybody just needed some space.

January 6, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the Indians

Indians career: Released 75 days later.

But not even because he had a poor spring training—he hit .286 in 35 AB—but because the Indians felt like Eliot Johnson was a better choice for the roster spot. Even as they were letting Frenchy go, they looked into his smiling face with that menacing innocence of a baby shark and still wanted to help him.

The Indians want to help Francoeur find another job in the major leagues, which led to the timing of the decision.

"It was really tough to tell him, not only because of the type of player he is but the type of person," [Former Indians GM Chris] Antonetti said. "He has a lot of fans here, including me...”

March 25, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the Padres

Padres career: .083/.179/.083, 0 HR, 7 SO in 24 AB

The plan worked! Together, the Indians and Jeff Francoeur made Jeff Francoeur look appealing enough to another team to get him a job three days after his release from Cleveland.

Francoeur made himself a part of another team’s history by hitting the first home run ever for the Triple A El Paso Chihuahuas. For some reason, the team then decided that 30-year-old outfielder Jeff Francoeur was going to be converted into a pitcher. This plan somehow failed, and he was eventually handed his walking papers by yet another sympathetic executive on August 11.

November 13, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the Phillies

Phillies career: .258/.286/.433, 13 HR, 77 SO in 326 AB

With this signing, Francoeur set off on a path toward the most important moment in baseball history.

At the end of the season, even Francoeur could feel the trade winds blowing, and knew the majestic spirit that guided his career from team to team was once more calling his name. He ripped his Phillies jersey off and flung it into the crowd.

February 22, 2016: Signed as a Free Agent with the Braves

Second Braves career: .249/.290/.381, 7 HR, 75 SO in 257 AB

Every time he gets traded, you think, “Ah, Frenchy’s last team before retirement. Where has the time gone?” And then you remember he’s only 32 years old, and could still be playing baseball for another eight years if he wants to. Why are earth’s governments searching for infinitely renewable energy sources when Jeff Francoeur is running around out there?

Rejoining the Braves, the team that had originally drafted him, whose hat he was wearing on that infamous Sports Illustrated cover, seemed like a natural, cyclical conclusion to his story. But “Frenchman: The Jeff Francoeur Story” isn’t a well-drafted, professionally-conceived yarn written and directed by J.J. Abrams. It’s a spastic, unpredictable mess scrawled into the dream diary of David Lynch. There’s a whole part in the middle where he’s in the minor leagues and spends half a season convinced that one of his teammates is deaf. Then he gets locked in a supply closet.

August 24, 2016: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Braves to the Marlins

Which brings us to last night.

The Marlins brought in Francoeur in to be the right-handed power bat that Giancarlo Stanton’s will not be for the remainder of the season, and with his deal up at the end of the year, he’s been acquired for yet another brief stint with a team still technically trying to make something of themselves.

Who knows what wild ride Frenchy is about to take the Fish on, and who knows where he’ll wind up when it’s over? This is simply Jeff Francoeur’s baseball adventure, and we are all witnesses to his journey. And now, instead of floundering with the rebuilding Braves at the bottom of a division, he’s been made a part of a team with playoff aspirations. We have a month and change of Jeff Franceour trying to make the post season to watch, folks. This is a gift; one we won’t receive again until, well; probably next year, when he gets flipped to the Mariners or something.