Kyle Blanks Rumors

Padres Acquire Ronald Herrera To Complete Kyle Blanks Trade

The Athletics announced (on Twitter) that they have traded right-hander Ronald Herrera to the Padres as the player to be named later in the Kyle Blanks trade. That deal, which was reached on May 15 this month, also sent outfielder Jake Goebbert to San Diego.

Herrera, 19, has spent the season in the rotation for Oakland’s Class-A affiliate in Beloit, pitching to a 3.38 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 50 2/3 innings of work. The Venezuelan hurler ranked 16th in the A’s farm system, according to MLB.com. Baseball America ranked Herrera 17th among A’s prospects prior to the 2014 campaign.

The A’s signed Herrera for just $20K out of Venezuela back in 2011 (as MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo notes in his free scouting report on Herrera). Mayo writes that Herrera is exceptionally polished for his age and features three pitches, including a fastball that touches 94 mph despite his small frame (he is listed at 5’10″ and 168 pounds). Mayo also writes that Herrera’s changeup shows more promise than his curveball, and his fastball features some nice sink. Baseball America agreed in their 2014 Prospect Handbook, noting that Herrera has outstanding command and “has the makings of a solid big league starter” down the line.


AL West Links: Rangers, Tepesch, Blanks, Sipp, McHugh

The surprising outbreak of injuries to Rangers pitchers has forced GM Jon Daniels to turn his attention from an underperforming offense to the gaping holes in the rotation, writes MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Texas will rely on Colby Lewis, Nick Tepesch, Robbie Ross and Nick Martinez to fill in behind ace Yu Darvish for the time being, with Scott Baker representing an alternative as Joe Saunders and Derek Holland mend. Daniels’ preference is to remain in-house, writes Sullivan, who also briefly notes that the Rangers have scouted Kendrys Morales to help the offense, but don’t want to meet his asking price.

Here are some more links pertaining to the Rangers’ pitching woes and the rest of the AL West…

  • Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron compares injured Rangers lefty Martin Perez to his likely replacement — Nick Tepesch. Cameron points out that despite Perez’s prospect status and the perception that Tepesch doesn’t have as much ceiling, the two have had remarkably similar results in their short careers. Tepesch’s ERA looks worse due to a high BABIP with runner in scoring position, but aside from that, they compare favorably. While Tepesch’s numbers have come in a smaller sample, his recent work at Triple-A and his MLB track record cause the ZiPS and Steamer projection systems to project that he’ll be as good or better than Perez over the rest of the season.
  • Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area was among the reporters to speak with Athletics GM Billy Beane about his acquisition of Kyle Blanks. The A’s were looking for a right-handed bat that could capably play both first base and the outfield, and Beane feels that Blanks fits that bill “exactly,” adding that “there aren’t many out there.” As Stiglich notes, Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery have slowed what once looked to be a promising career for Blanks. Said Beane: He was a pretty highly thought of prospect coming through the minors. It looked like he was going to be that guy in the majors until injuries derailed him.”
  • The Astros have gotten big contributions from lefty Tony Sipp and right-hander Collin McHugh in the season’s early stages, but Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that the team’s first attempts to acquire each player failed. The Astros pursued Sipp this offseason and made an offer before he elected to sign with the Padres, and GM Jeff Luhnow told Drellich he tried to acquire McHugh from the Mets and Rockies in trades last season.
  • Within that same piece, Luhnow discussed the early success of left-hander Dallas Keuchel, which has come as no surprise to him. Each member of the Astros front office made a “pick to click” during Spring Training this year, writes Drellich, and Luhnow’s was Keuchel, and the GM certainly makes it sound like Keuchel is viewed as a long-term rotation piece. He’s never been handed a job … I think after this year he will put himself in a position where that’s no longer a question.”

Athletics Acquire Kyle Blanks From Padres

The Athletics have officially agreed to acquire outfielder/first baseman Kyle Blanks from the Padres. Minor league outfielder Jake Goebbert will head to San Diego in the deal, along with a player to be named later or cash considerations.

MLB: Spring Training-San Diego Padres at Chicago White Sox

Blanks, 27, has spent most of his big league time in the outfield, but has primarily played at first in the minors. Blanks will be added to the Athletics’ MLB roster, and is expected to serve as the right-handed side of a first base platoon with Brandon Moss. He takes the place of the just-designated Daric Barton, a left-handed hitter who had been used against southpaws to little success this year.

A’s GM Billy Beane said that he targeted Blanks because he was a right-handed bat who could play at first and the corner outfield, reports Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter links). “He is exactly what we were looking for,” said Beane, “and there’s not many out there.” Beane also emphasized Blanks’s prospect pedigree, noting that “it looked like he was going to be that guy in the majors until injuries derailed him.”

Though Blanks has seen only minimal big league action this year, he has taken 806 MLB plate appearances over parts of six seasons, posting a composite .228/.310/.401 slash with 28 career home runs. Batting from the right side, Blanks has been somewhat more successful against southpaws (.733 OPS) than versus righties (.701). While that variance may be less pronounced than one might have expected, Blanks has posted wider splits in the upper minors. Blanks had been impressive at Triple-A this year, hitting .265/.364/.651 with 9 home runs through just 99 plate appearances.

Blanks, who avoided arbitration for just under $1MM this year, had already accrued over four years of MLB service coming into the season. If he can stay on the active roster long enough to add 140 days to his tally, he would move past five years of service by season’s end. This is the final option year for Blanks, meaning that the Padres were going to have to use him or lose him in the near future — and that the Athletics, likewise, will probably not be able to stash him in the minors beyond this year.

Meanwhile, Goebbert — a 26-year-old outfielder — has yet to see any MLB action and has not yet been added to a 40-man roster, meaning that he comes with six years of control and all of his options intact. Of course, the Padres could potentially deem it necessary to give him a 40-man slot to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

While the former 13th-round draft pick does not have a major presence among independent talent evaluators — he did not place on either Baseball America’s ranking of Oakland’s top thirty prospects or on MLB.com’s list of the club’s twenty best prospects — he has been on a tear at Triple-A this year. Goebbert’s batting line stands at .257/.371/.505 through his first 132 plate appearances, continuing a trend of posting solid on-base and slugging numbers throughout his time in the upper minors.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick first reported the deal (via Twitter). Interest between the clubs was reported earlier in the week by Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links), who also noted that Goebbert could be involved. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link) and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links) reported that Goebbert was headed to the Padres in the deal, with Slusser also reporting that Blanks would be added to the MLB roster. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that Blanks was expected to see time at first.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Padres, A’s Exploring Kyle Blanks Trade

THURSDAY: Talks between the clubs appear to be “heating up” today, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

TUESDAY: Blanks has been optioned to Triple-A to create roster space for Carlos Quentin, manager Bud Black told Marty Caswell of 1090 Sports Radio (Twitter link; h/t to MLB.com’s Corey Brock). That, rather than a completed trade, explains his absence from the lineup card today. Of course, Blanks can still be dealt just the same whether or not he is on the active roster.

MONDAY: First baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks could be on the move soon, and the A’s are one possibility for the team that could acquire him, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter links). Oakland has in fact shown interest in acquiring Blanks, reports Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com.

One name that Cotillo hears could be in play is Jake Goebbert — a 26-year-old outfielder who is batting .257/.371/.505 in 132 plate appearances with Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento. Goebbert did not place on Baseball America’s list of Top 30 A’s prospects nor on MLB.com’s Top 20 list for Oakland.

The Friars only recently promoted Blanks, 27, from Triple-A El Paso this season, where he had been hitting the ball with authority, pounding nine homers in 99 plate appearances. Blanks was once regarded as the game’s No. 50 prospect by Baseball America and No. 54 by ESPN’s Keith Law, but that was back in 2009. Since a highly impressive debut that same season in which he batted a healthy .250/.355/.514 with 10 homers in 172 PA, Blanks has slashed just .222/.298/.372 in the Majors.

As Stiglich notes, the A’s could be interested in platooning Blanks at first and/or deploying him as an outfield bench bat. Alternatively, the club may have designs on stashing him at Triple-A for depth.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Padres Designate Xavier Nady For Assignment

The Padres announced (on Twitter) that they have designated outfielder Xavier Nady for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Kyle Blanks, who will be recalled from Triple-A El Paso for tonight’s game.

Though the 35-year-old Nady belted three homers in 42 plate appearances for the Padres, he also batted just .135 with a .238 on-base percentage in 2014. This season marked his first big league action since 2012 as well as a return to the organization that originally selected him in the second round of the 2000 draft

Blanks, 27, has hit very well for El Paso this season, slashing .265/.364/.651 with nine home runs in 99 trips to the plate. The former top prospect has seen his share of big league experience but has never been able to replicate the strong production he posted in his 54-game debut as a 22-year-old back in 2009. Over the past four seasons in the Majors, Blanks has batted .223/.300/.375 with 18 homers in 624 plate appearances — a far cry from 2009′s .255/.355/.514 with 10 round-trippers in 172 PA.

The Padres could use all of the help they can get offensively, as the team has batted just .216/.268/.325 as a collective unit thus far, causing them to rank last in the Majors in nearly any measure of offensive output (e.g. runs scored, OPS, wOBA, OPS+ and wRC+).


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).

(more…)


Padres, Blanks Avoid Arbitration

The Padres avoided arbitration with Kyle Blanks, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter). The Sosnick/Cobbe client will earn $605K in 2013.

Blanks, 26, appeared in just four games this past season, undergoing season-ending labrum surgery in April. The right-handed hitter has a career batting line of .219/.316/.421 with 20 home runs in 488 career plate appearances. Matt Swartz's projections for MLBTR had Blanks at $600K, so the agreed upon salary doesn't come as a surprise.


Quick Hits: Rizzo, Rangers, Garza, Johnson

It was one year ago today that the Angels and Blue Jays pulled off the huge trade that sent Vernon Wells to Anaheim in exchange for Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli.  The Jays were considered immediate winners for getting Wells' huge contract off their payroll and the swap looks even better for Toronto given Wells' .218/.248/.412 season in 2011.

Some news from around the majors…

  • New Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo holds the top spot on this list of baseball's top 10 first base prospects from MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
  • Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine acknowledged that there are "active discussions internally" about improving the team when speaking with Todd Hollandsworth and Jim Memolo on MLB Network Radio (mp3 link), but it's unlikely the Rangers will make another significant move. "It won't be from a lack of creativity," he said.
  • Matt Garza told Hollandsworth and Memolo that he's "definitely open" to signing an extension with the Cubs (mp3 link).
  • Josh Johnson tells Glenn Geffner of the Marlins Insider 790 AM radio show (and passed on by Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post) that he will begin throwing off a mound next week, the first time the Marlins ace has done so since September.  Johnson was limited to nine starts last season due to shoulder injuries.
  • Yoenis Cespedes is still not an established resident of the Dominican Republic, which is holding up his free agency, reports MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.
  • Kyle Blanks may only realize his potential if he leaves the Padres, opines Fangraphs' Paul Swydan.
  • Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune is back with his weekly online chat about the Padres.
  • The Tigers, Indians and the "sleeper choice" Brewers are all possible fits for Derrek Lee, writes Tony Andracki of CSNChicago.com.

MLBTR's Mike Axisa also contributed to this post


Possible Destinations: Andruw Jones

Was a better bargain than Andruw Jones signed this winter? The White Sox added him on a one-year deal worth $500K, and all he's given them so far is a batting line of .260/.360/.604. Meanwhile, the man patrolling his old Atlanta center field home, Nate McLouth, checks in at .167/.302/.271, and Gary Matthews Jr., who will make twice what Jones does from the Mets this year (and next year!), is hitting .152/.235/.196.

The problem is, this hasn't allowed the White Sox to move into contention. Thanks to a 14-20 start, combined with Minnesota's 22-12 beginning, Chicago is already eight games out, with Memorial Day still weeks away. So it may well be that the White Sox can, and should flip Jones to a contending team down the stretch. And that reasonable short-term deal means some of the smaller-market contenders are likely to be in the Jones sweepstakes.

What are some possible destinations?

  • Washington could be a good fit. Willie Harris is hitting just .182/.313/.418, and with Willy Taveras also getting outfield at-bats, so Jones could be a good fit for regular corner outfield time. The Nationals have several pitchers set to join the big league team, but little in the way of outfield prospects at the top of their system. For now, the Nationals say they're content with Harris and Roger Bernadina.
  • Cincinnati has seen Drew Stubbs struggle in center field so far; he's hitting just .196/.283/.321. It shouldn't be hard to convince Dusty Baker to play the veteran Jones over Stubbs, either. It's not clear that Jones is still an every day center fielder, but Chicago has already played him there four times in 2010.
  • The Padres have Kyle Blanks in left field, Tony Gwynn Jr. in center field, and Will Venable in right field. Of the three, only Blanks profiles as a top prospect, so the other two could be vulnerable to a Jones acquisition, should San Diego remain in the race.
  • With Eric Chavez and Jake Fox struggling, and Rajai Davis reverting to form, the Athletics could use Jones in either center field or at designated hitter to support an imposing starting rotation. The move sounds a lot like acquiring Frank Thomas, doesn't it?
  • And don't fall asleep on Seattle, either. Currently 6.5 games out, the Mariners have the talent to climb back into the race, but their DHs, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney, simply aren't hitting. Jones could also slot into left field.

One thing's for sure: those who believed Andruw Jones' career was over- a sad thing for anyone who saw him dominate baseball in his 20s- appear to have been premature.


Odds And Ends: Webb, Doumit, Blanks

Links for Friday morning…