Kyle Blanks Rumors
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.
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
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.
Links for Friday morning...
- Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News argues the Phillies should declare prospect Michael Taylor off-limits.
- Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post says the 2009 Rockies are nothing like the version that stunned us with a late-season surge two Septembers ago.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues the Nationals need to fire Manny Acta or assure him that he'll manage all season.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic says Brandon Webb had a setback and could miss the entire year.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wonders whether the Pirates have considered moving Ryan Doumit to first base or right field when he returns.
- The Padres called up their top prospect, Kyle Blanks, according to Baseball America's John Manuel.
- Ben Klayman and Megan Davies of Reuters report that the Ricketts family has a rival in its bid to buy the Cubs, as an old bidder is again involved.
Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes about the Padres' intention to add pitching to the organization. He learned that the Nationals inquired about Padres first base prospect Kyle Blanks, but were not willing to trade their own top prospect Jordan Zimmermann. Would've been interesting to see.
Krasovic says the Padres are focused on out of options pitchers, and in particular inquired on Arizona's Juan Gutierrez. Krasovic tosses out names of other out of options hurlers on the D'Backs and Angels: Jason Bulger, Shane Loux, Dustin Moseley, Yusmeiro Petit, and Travis Blackley. Two more possibilities: Giants Rule 5 pick Luis Perdomo and Rangers veteran Jason Jennings. I don't know whether the Padres are interested, but a few more out of options pitchers include David Pauley, Hayden Penn, Dustin Nippert, Jeff Niemann, and Jason Hammel.
According to Krasovic, GM Kevin Towers is focused exclusively on pitching this month. Krasovic adds:
Some Padres evaluators have become dismayed, according to other clubs, by a perceived dearth of power arms high in the organization and are wondering if the club's four-year emphasis on “pitchability” got overdone.