Yankees sign Ben Francisco

TAMPA, Fla. — The Yankees have signed outfielder Ben Francisco to a Minor League contract and will consider him for a roster spot this spring, general manager Brian Cashman said.

Francisco, 31, was granted his unconditional release by the Indians on Monday and quickly signed with New York. Cashman said that the Yankees had talked to Francisco over the winter about a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.

“He’s someone that’s going to compete for an extra outfielder’s spot,” Cashman said. “I think he’s definitely worthy for competition, so we’re going to take a look at him.”

Francisco is a career .257 hitter over six seasons with the Indians, Phillies, Blue Jays, Astros and Rays. He played last season with Toronto, Houston and Tampa Bay, batting a combined .234 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 51 games.

He was having a good spring with Cleveland, stroking eight hits in 20 at-bats (.400), but Cashman said that his chances of contributing to the club had diminished because the Indians signed free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn.

“The circumstances and opportunities over there may have changed for him,” Cashman said. “Circumstances and opportunities here have opened up, so we’ll see what we see.”

Francisco will join the mix of competitors looking to fill in for the injured Curtis Granderson, as well as serve as a right-handed outfield bat off the bench. The Yankees have been strongly considering veterans Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz for those roles.

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