Henry Blanco Rumors

Quick Hits: Upton, Montero, Rays, Hunter, Pirates

MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the ten players most likely to be traded this offseason and the Braves’ Justin Upton tops the list. Castrovince feels the Braves could obtain a similar, if not better, return than they received for Jason Heyward because Upton’s powerful bat has tremendous value.

Here are the latest notes from around baseball:

  • Miguel Montero placed tenth on Castrovince’s list and Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) wonders if the hiring of Henry Blanco will create traction for the Cubs‘ interest in the Diamondbacks’ catcher, who was a Blanco pupil in 2014. The D’Backs have reportedly spoken with the Cubs, Dodgers, and White Sox about Montero.
  • With Jose Molina gone, the Rays are working to add a backup to Ryan Hanigan, either via trade or signing. They’d like a catcher with more experience than Curt Casali and, preferably, options, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • More from Topkin who reports, in addition to an expected trade of Matt Joyce and/or David DeJesus, the Rays may be looking to deal from depth in reserve infielders and relievers. He identifies Logan Forsythe and Sean Rodriguez as infield trade possibilities and Brandon Gomes as a bullpen arm who could be moved.
  • It may not be “sexy,” but the Red Sox‘s pursuit of Pablo Sandoval makes perfect sense, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox appear to be one of the finalists for Sandoval, alongside the Padres and incumbent Giants.
  • Torii Hunter told Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press he favors the Twins among the teams with which he is considering signing. “(Twins General Manager) Terry Ryan and I have talked several times, and there’s definitely a common interest there, for sure,” the veteran said. Ten teams reportedly have interest in Hunter.
  • The Pirates could re-allocate the resources set aside for Russell Martin to pursue rotation and bullpen help, a first baseman, and/or sign some of their young core to extensions, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Henry Blanco Joins Diamondbacks’ Coaching Staff

5:28pm: Blanco has not officially retired, reports Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (via Twitter).

5:17pm: Veteran catcher Henry Blanco has officially retired and accepted an unspecified position with the Diamondbacks' Major League coaching staff, the D'Backs announced via press release.

A veteran of parts of 16 Major League seasons, Blanco split the 2013 season between the Diamondbacks and Mariners, batting .142/.228/.246. Though his overall numbers weren't much to look at, Blanco clubbed a grand slam in his first game with the Mariners and chipped in another slam later in the season with Seattle. He had signed a minor league deal to return to the D'Backs this winter but did not win the backup catcher's role in Spring Training.

Blanco's lengthy professional career began in the 1980s, when the Dodgers inked him as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela. He would make his big league debut with Los Angeles nine years later in 1997 and go on to also don the uniforms of the Rockies, Brewers, Braves, Twins, Cubs, Padres, Mets, D'Backs and Mariners. Blanco finishes his career with a .223/.288/.361 batting line to go along with 72 homers in 3097 big league plate appearances. Always known for his defense behind the plate, Blanco gunned down a highly impressive 43 percent of attempted baserunners in more than 7000 career innings behind the plate.

Blanco earned just shy of $17MM in his playing career, per Baseball-Reference.com, and should have a wealth of knowledge to instill upon younger players as he begins his coaching career in Arizona. MLBTR wishes Blanco the best of luck in his coaching career.

Minor Moves: Asencio, Bocock, Ely, Martinez, Blanco

Here are today's minor moves and outright assignments from around the league…

  • Jairo Asencio has signed with the KIA Tigers in the Korean Baseball Organization, MyKBO.net tweets. The Orioles acquired the 30-year-old righty from the Brewers all the way back in March, using him for just 2 1/3 innings this year. Asencio has a career 5.34 ERA in 43 big league appearances, but has been much better at Triple-A, where he's pitched to a 2.56 ERA across 165 games.
  • The Royals announced that they have signed infielder Brian Bocock and outfielder Johermyn Chavez to minor-league contracts. The 28-year-old Bocock has 38 big league games on his resume and last appeared in the majors in 2010 with the Phillies. He has a career .226/.297/.309 minor-league line. Chavez, 24, has never appeared in the big leagues. He's hit .261/.340/.438 in nearly 3,000 minor-league plate appearances. The Bocock deal was originally reported by Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish on Twitter.
  • The Red Sox have signed pitcher John Ely and re-signed Miguel Celestino to minor-league deals, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports. Ely, 27, missed most of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery but had a strong year in Triple-A in 2012, posting a 3.20 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 168 2/3 innings for Albuquerque. Celestino, 24, posted a 6.12 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 for Double-A Portland in 2013.
  • The Pirates have signed utilityman Michael Martinez to a minor-league deal, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. Martinez, 31, hit .300/.352/.407 for the Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley affiliate in 2013. He also picked up 40 plate appearances at the big-league level.
  • The Diamondbacks announced that they've signed veteran catcher Henry Blanco to a minor-league deal with a spring training invite. Earlier today, Arizona was reportedly close to signing Blanco, who hit .142/.228/.246 with the Blue Jays and Mariners in 2013. Blanco, 42, played with the Diamondbacks in 2011 and 2012.
  • The Cubs announced that they have signed outfielder Ryan Kalish to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Kalish, 25, was originally drafted by the Red Sox when Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer were with Boston.
  • The Cubs have also signed catcher John Baker to a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweets. The light-hitting Baker played briefly with the Padres in 2013, and also appeared in Tucscon (Padres) and Albuquerque (Dodgers) in Triple-A.
  • The Tigers outrighted infielder Dixon Machado to Triple-A Toledo, according to an MILB.com release. Machado hit .215/.264/.295 with Class A+ Lakeland in 2013. The Tigers designated him for assignment last week.

Charlie Wilmoth and Aaron Steen contributed to this post.

Diamondbacks Close To Signing Hudson, Blanco

The Diamondbacks are close to a new contract with Daniel Hudson, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports.  Hudson is believed to want a deal that would guaranteed him a spot on the 40-man roster, though he is expected to be sidelined for possibly the entire 2014 season as he recovers from two Tommy John surgeries.

Hudson was non-tendered by the D'Backs earlier this month though there was mutual interest on both sides in working out a new deal.  The right-hander posted a 3.19 ERA, 3.1 K/BB and 7.2 K/9 over his first 336 Major League innings from 2009-11 and looked to be one of the game's up-and-coming young pitchers before he fell victim to injuries.  Hudson's last Major League pitch came on June 26, 2012 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, and then had to undergo a second procedure after reinjuring his elbow last June.

The D'Backs are also expected to sign veteran catcher Henry Blanco to a minor league deal with an invitation to the Major League Spring Training camp, Piecoro reports.  Blanco, 42, will return to Arizona after playing with the team as a backup in 2011-12.  Blanco posted a .474 OPS in 150 PA with the Mariners and Blue Jays in 2013 and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently reported that Blanco is looking to play for one final season.

Quick Hits: Giants, Arroyo, De La Cruz, Cano, Blanco

Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter link) that the club still likes Bronson Arroyo, even after signing Tim Hudson. "Bronson Arroyo is not out of our picture," Evans said. The Giants made a two-year, $23MM commitment to Hudson yesterday.  Here's tonight's look around the majors..

  • Kelvin De La Cruz is out of options, so the Orioles must be planning on having him in their big league bullpen, tweets Tim Dierkes of MLBTR. The O's won't be able to remove him from the 40-man roster without him passing through waivers, and they signed him to a Major League deal despite his lack of MLB experience.
  • In his latest mailbag, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that while the Braves will certainly make every attempt to move Dan Uggla and a piece of the $26MM he is owed over the next two seasons, they understand it will not be easy.  Teams that can't afford to sign top second baseman Robinson Cano can look into signing Omar Infante or trading for the likes of Ian Kinsler or Howie Kendrick.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News says that the Mets should be serious players for Cano.  The Mets met with Cano's agents, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay-Z, last night, but all indications are that they won't be in the mix for his services.
  • Catcher Henry Blanco, 42, is looking to play one more season, Tim tweets. The veteran is likely to have a career in coaching once he's through playing.  Blanco saw 50 games of big league action for the Blue Jays and Mariners last season.

Henry Blanco Elects Free Agency

THURSDAY: Blanco cleared waivers, declined his outright assignment and has elected free agency, the Mariners announced on Twitter.

TUESDAY: To make room for the newly-acquired Travis Witherspoon on the 40-man roster, the Mariners announced that they have designated catcher Henry Blanco for assignment.

Blanco, 42, slashed just .125/.215/.240 in 107 big league platea appearances this season.  Blanco joined Seattle in June, just days after he was cut loose by the Blue Jays.  Over 16 years in the majors, the well-traveled veteran owns a .223/.288/.361 line with the Cubs, D'Backs, Braves, Brewers, Twins, Mets, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, Mariners, and Blue Jays.

To keep track of Blanco and other players in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR's DFA Tracker.

Mariners Sign Blanco, Release Shoppach

THURSDAY: The Mariners have released Shoppach, MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets. Shoppach is now on release waivers, and teams have until Saturday to decide whether to claim him.

FRIDAY: The Mariners have issued a press release announcing that they have signed veteran Henry Blanco to a Major League contract and designated Kelly Shoppach for assignment.

Blanco, 41, is joining his 11th different Major League team. The veteran hit just .184/.262/.263 in 15 games (43 plate appearances) for the Blue Jays this season before being designated for assignment and ultimately released on Tuesday. He's seen time with the Cubs, D-backs, Braves, Brewers, Twins, Mets, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres and Blue Jays previously. Blanco owns a career batting line of .226/.291/.366.

Shoppach, 33, hit .196/.293/.346 with three homers in 35 games for the Mariners this season. He's been leaned upon heavily since the demotion of Jesus Montero, but rookie Mike Zunino figures to get the lion's share of playing time from this point forward. In his career, the right-handed-hitting Shoppach has hit .261/.355/.501 in 641 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.

Blue Jays Release Henry Blanco

The Blue Jays announced that they have released catcher Henry Blanco.  The 41-year-old was designated for assignment last week to make room for Andy LaRoche, who was DFA'd earlier today for Chien-Ming Wang's arrival.

Blanco appeared in 15 games for the Blue Jays this year and started as catcher in 13 of those contests. For his career, Blanco owns a .226/.291/.366 slash line across 16 years for the Dodgers, Rockies, Brewers, Braves, Twins, Cubs, Padres, Mets, D'Backs, and Blue Jays. 

Blue Jays Designate Henry Blanco For Assignment

The Blue Jays announced that they have designated catcher Henry Blanco for assignment.  In related moves, Toronto has recalled catcher Josh Thole and selected the contract of infielder Andy LaRoche from Triple-A Buffalo.

Blanco, 41, appeared in 15 games for the Blue Jays this year and started as catcher in 13 of those contests.   For his career, Blanco owns a .226/.291/.366 slash line across 16 years for the Dodgers, Rockies, Brewers, Braves, Twins, Cubs, Padres, Mets, D'Backs, and Blue Jays.  By promoting Thole, the Blue Jays gain an experienced knuckleball handler; Thole was R.A. Dickey's catcher with the Mets prior to this offseason's trade.

Quick Hits: Hurdle, Friedman, Braves, Gardenhire

Josh Booty has won a non-roster invitation to the Diamondbacks' Spring Training camp by emerging as the victor on The Next Knuckler, an MLB Network reality show.  Booty, 37, was drafted fifth overall by the Marlins in the 1994 and accumulated just 30 Major League plate appearances with the Fish from 1996-98.  Booty played third base originally but is now trying to make it back as a knuckleball pitcher.

Here's the latest from around the majors…

  • Clint Hurdle is a favorite of Pirates owner Robert Nutting and has a better chance of staying with the team than GM Neal Huntington and president Frank Coonelly do if the Bucs struggle again, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  Hurdle's contract was recently extended through the 2014 season.
  • "It has always been hard to sustain success as a small-market team and the new CBA does not impact that very much," Andrew Friedman tells Erik Hahmann of the DRaysBay blog.  "There are some interesting ideas within the new system but the overarching structure still tips the scales heavily in favor of the large markets (especially with growing revenue disparity).  The key to changing that will be moving to a system that doesn't penalize small-market clubs-in the draft order, in the competitive balance lottery, in the international arena–for being successful."  The Rays executive VP of baseball operations also addresses other league, management and roster topics during the interview.
  • The Braves spent much more to sign B.J. Upton than the Indians did to sign Michael Bourn, but Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution feels the Braves' offseason was better served overall by moving on from their former center fielder.
  • The Twins are known for their loyalty towards managers but MLB.com's Marty Noble writes that Ron Gardenhire's future with the team could be in question if Minnesota struggles again.  The Twins are coming off back-to-back last place finishes in the AL Central, though these were only the second and third losing seasons of Gardenhire's 11-year tenure as skipper.
  • The Royals' pitching acquisitions have left Aaron Crow with no immediate future as a starting pitcher, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes.  Crow was drafted (12th overall in 2009) as a starter but has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in the majors and performed well.  Crow made the 2011 All-Star team and has posted a 3.13 ERA, a 9.2 K/9 rate and a 2.45 K/BB ratio over 126 2/3 relief innings in 2011-12.
  • Mark DeRosa and Henry Blanco may have limited on-field value at this stage of their careers but Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi that good chemistry is a crucial part of a winning team and that the Jays will benefit from the two veterans' clubhouse leadership.   
  • Baseball America's Ben Badler recaps each team's significant international signings from 2012.