Even though Jeff Francis recently signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds, that doesn't necessarily mean that he will be pitching for them all season. In fact, he's in control of his own destiny thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement if the Reds are going to leave him in the minors. It pays, in other words, to be a ML veteran.
Pitching for the Royals last year, Francis exhibited that he was successful in getting past the labrum surgery that could have sidelined his major league hopes. However he was also rather uninspiring in his results, so it's not surprising that he ended up with a minor league deal with a contender. But the Reds cannot just stash him away.
R.J. Anderson writes about Francis' freedom in Baseball Prospectus. He writes, "If this is the best offer Francis could get now, it isn’t likely that spring training will alter his stock too much one way or the other. Pitching in the minors works as a prolonged audition, but in effect, Francis will be waiting in the wings in case the Reds suffer an injury or a bout of ineffectiveness. The Reds are going to compete, and having a proven major league innings sponge just a phone call away is comforting, even if a phone call after the first two months could lead Francis to another team,"