MINNEAPOLIS -- Jeff Francoeur's teammates regretted the veteran right fielder's departure after 2 1/2 seasons with the Royals.
"I spent the last three years with him. He's like a brother," said designated hitter Billy Butler. "You feel like you lost your brother, but he'll land on his feet somewhere. He was one of the best guys I've played with. Same thing as Mitch Maier. It was tough to see Mitch go, it's tough to see Frenchy go."
Mitch Maier, a former Royals outfielder, is now with Triple-A Pawtucket in the Boston organization.
"Anything that happened on the field, I'd talk with Frenchy or talk with Gordo [Alex Gordon] about it," Butler added. "He's just one of the best guys you'll meet in baseball. He's always having a good day. He always made my day better. It's awesome to have him as a friend."
Francoeur was a team leader who often encouraged young players such as third baseman Mike Moustakas.
"Frenchy's a great teammate and a great player. It's always tough to see one of your friends, one of your teammates leave but, at the end of the day, hopefully it turns out to be a great deal for him and he ends up somewhere great," Moustakas said. "He's got a lot of talent and he's going to be fine wherever he goes."
Francoeur was losing playing time to up-and-coming outfielders David Lough and Jarrod Dyson.
"Friends come and go in this game, but it's part of the business," left fielder Gordon said. "I think in his case, it's probably better that he gets another shot somewhere else because he wasn't playing here. He's not really a bench guy, he needs to be a guy that's playing a lot of the time. And carrying five outfielders is not easy and you kind of had the feeling something might happen. It's not easy to swallow, but it's probably for the best.
"Even when he wasn't playing, you never heard a peep from him which really showed his true character. We all knew he was a great guy, but that proved it even more."
Pitcher Luke Hochevar counted Francoeur as one of his best friends in the game.
"The game is just crazy sometimes and you just can't predict any of it, but he'll definitely be missed -- his personality, the way he went about his business. He was definitely a pro's pro," Hochevar said.
"He came up on a club that was a veteran club with [Tom] Glavine and [John] Smoltz and [Greg] Maddux and Chipper [Jones], and those guys so he kind of carried that persona about him. He was a real pro and respected the game, and played the game right. He was a good leader for a lot of young guys."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.