Giants general manager Bobby Evans expects to be able to trade minor league right-hander Clayton Blackburn after designating him for assignment yesterday, writes Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. Baggarly tweeted after the DFA that trade interest in Blackburn has been constant over the life of the winter, and he speculates within his column that the Giants may already have the framework of a deal in place.
As I noted at the time Blackburn was designated, it seems quite likely that another club would have interest in striking up a deal to land the 24-year-old. Long touted as one of the Giants’ top 10 prospects, Blackburn took a step back in 2016 with a 4.36 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 46.8 percent ground-ball rate in Triple-A, but he posted a league-leading 2.85 ERA in 123 1/3 Triple-A innings back in 2015.
Overall, Blackburn has a strong minor league track record, having logged a 3.30 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in parts of seven professional seasons. The righty still has two minor league options remaining, so any club that acquires Blackburn can option him to the minors without first having to expose him to waivers.
While Blackburn’s stock may have slipped with last year’s lackluster results, it’s not surprising that an optionable 24-year-old with 262 1/3 reasonably successful innings in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League would generate interest. Blackburn won’t return an elite prospect or much help to the Giants’ Major League roster, one wouldn’t think, but this is the type of MLB-ready depth piece that the Mariners, Cubs and Orioles have stocked up on in recent months. The Mets, of course, have sustained multiple injuries on their pitching staff already, though there’s little sense in speculating too heavily as to where Blackburn could land, as it’s easy to make the argument that any club could use some additional upper-level rotation depth.