San Francisco Giants Stockpiling Blancos
By Jeff Young
In the past couple of days, the San Francisco Giants have been collecting Blancos. First, Gregor Blanco, and now, Andres Blanco.
They will not sign Henry Blanco as he last played in the major leagues in 2013. So, what does today’s Blanco offer?
Andres Blanco has been with the Philadelphia Phillies for the past four seasons. This suggests that the Phillies were comfortable enough with his performance to keep him on the roster.
Despite the Phillies win-loss records recently, that is a solid benchmark for a player aiming for a bench role.
Blanco can play several infield positions including third base, second base, and shortstop. He has even made cameo appearances in left field and as a relief pitcher. He would probably fill in as a bullpen catcher if the need arose.
The Giants will be looking to build a bench with players who can play multiple positions. Not coincidentally, Blanco can play multiple positions. It is likely that Kelby Tomlinson has a role on the Giants bench next season. Tomlinson is versatile, gets on-base at a decent clip, and has nothing else to prove in Triple-A.
However, Blanco has a bit more experience and a better track record with the glove. His versatility will be his greatest asset heading into Spring Training.
The Giants will have several utility-type players battling for a bench role including Pablo Sandoval, Josh Rutledge, Alen Hanson, and Orlando Calixte.
Sandoval does not have the positional versatility, and the latter three lack a major league track record. As a result, Blanco may have an edge as these utility players battle it out in Scottsdale next month.
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Despite this advantage, he does not offer much with the bat. His biggest strength is that he is a switch hitter. However, he is not going to be an offensive juggernaut from either side of the plate. Blanco has a career .256/.310/.378 slash line. Given his age and recent production, it may be unlikely he achieves any of these numbers in 2018.
His bat does not seem to be an asset, but Bruce Bochy is still the manager of the Giants. And, Bochy does like to play his matchups late in the game. As a switch hitter, Blanco could seemingly be an option against left-handed and right-handed pitchers.
Spring Training is just around the corner, and Blanco seems like an intriguing player to monitor. Additionally, it will be important to listen carefully to how Bochy discusses Blanco throughout camp. He has a habit of being open and transparent, rather than subtle, brash and discreet like a football coach.
Lastly, the Giants are bringing Blanco in on a minor league contract. Like many minor league contracts, Blanco will have an opportunity to opt-out if he does not make the team out Spring Training. Specifically, Blanco’s opt-out contains verbage that allows him to sign with an Asian team if he is not on the roster.
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Blanco may not make the roster out of Spring Training. However, the Giants may convey to him that they will call him up in the event of an injury. They do this every year to maintain player inventory. Just last season, Drew Stubbs and Justin Ruggiano were early season replacements for injuries and ineffectiveness. If I were a betting man, I’d guess Blanco offers just enough to secure a bench role.