By Jason Wojciechowski on May 12, 2014 at 9:20 PM
Well that's interesting. When I wrote yesterday about being frustrated with Daric Barton and thinking it might soon be Nate Freiman time,1 I didn't think much about out-of-organization options, but Blanks is certainly intriguing.
Baseball America rated him the 50th-best prospect in baseball in its 2009 book after he hit .301/.380/.540 and .325/.404/.514, respectively, in High-A and Double-A at 20 and 21 years old. The numbers stayed lofty in 2009, including 172 plate appearances in San Diego, where he posted a deceptive .250/.355/.514 line. Deceptive because it looks good, but in the context of San Diego, that's awesome: 137 OPS+, .305 True Average.
Unfortunately, 2009 also represented the beginning of the decline, sadly and unexpectedly:
|2009||torn plantar fascia||32|
|2010||Tommy John surgery||124|
|2011||Tommy John surgery||24|
Blanks also lacerated his face running into a wall, which, really, if anyone's going to win a fight with a wall, it's him: MLB.com has him listed at 6'6" and 265. (Though that size also makes you wonder just what the hell he's doing blazing around the outfield like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. Slow down, big man!)
Blanks has basically spent 2014 in Triple-A, where he's hit .265/.364/.651 roflwhat. Unfortunately for us, El Paso is a new home for the Padres' Triple-A team, so we don't have good park factor data yet. There's probably some air to take out of the line, but how much? Albuquerque-esque? Salt Lake City? Or maybe there's not! Maybe that's a totally straight PCL line.
In any case, he's still just 27, so there's hope yet that he can recapture the old glory, even as that glory came a little bit from nowhere, as a 42nd-round draft-and-follow. I've been a fan for a long time and have had him on the DL of several fantasy teams over the years. Plus I've always wanted my very own Adam Dunn to root for.
The Padres sending him away for Jake Goebbert would be interesting -- Goebbert is a 26-year-old who has yet to debut and is not on the 40-man. The A's got him for Travis Blackley, so he's not any sort of top prospect. The brief reports I see on The Internet indicate an all-stick player without enough stick to be a starter, which kinda seems like if you took Kyle Blanks and subtracted some stick. But you also subtract some service time and some money, so with Carlos Quentin coming back imminently, maybe the Padres just want to clear the spot, save a couple hundred thousand bucks, and figure they can always call up Alex Castellanos or Jeff Francouer if they need to.
The A's, meanwhile, would need to make a 40-man move to fit Blanks on the roster, but if he's coming onto the 25-man as well (and I'd hope he would be), both spots can be cleared by the aforementioned designation for assignment of Daric Barton. On the other hand, since Blanks appears to have 2014 as his final option year, the A's could just designated Kent Matthes (who a kindly Twitter friend noted has actually been demoted to Double-A) or Nick Buss or even Evan Scribner, whoever they either feel is most expendable or least likely to be claimed on waivers.
Either way, who knows if this is actually happening. Rumors are rumors, and the A's are surely not the only team who'd be interested in Blanks, and the Padres don't have to trade him -- as noted, he has an option, and Quentin is coming back from the 15-day DL, not the 60-, so there's no need to create a 40-man roster spot by clearing Blanks out. San Diego can wait for the offer it wants.
MORE AS IT DEVELOPS.
Have we talked about the possibility that the A's might be avoiding Super Two status with Freiman? I don't know if they see him as a fixture on the team long-term such that they care all that much about what happens with him a few years down the line, but to the extent they do, they could be leaving him in Triple-A rather than letting him accumulate big-league time to avoid having to pay him arbitration money in 2015. ↩
All data from Baseball Prospectus' Injury History listing on Blanks' player page. ↩