TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees have signed outfielder Ben Francisco to a Minor League contract and will give him a chance to win a roster spot this spring, general manager Brian Cashman said on Monday.
Francisco, 31, requested and was granted his unconditional release by the Indians on Monday before quickly signing 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 parts of six seasons with the Indians, Phillies, Blue Jays, Astros and Rays. He played last season with Toronto, Houston and Tampa Bay, batting a combined .240 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 82 games.
He was having a good spring with Cleveland, stroking eight hits -- including six doubles -- in 20 at-bats (.400), but Cashman said that Francisco's opportunities to contribute 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.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he expects Francisco to be in Wednesday's lineup against the Phillies against left-hander Cliff Lee in Tampa.
"He's got a chance to compete for that spot against left-handers," Girardi said. "He's had success in his career against left-handers, an outfielder with experience. He's going to get some opportunities."