Arizona Diamondbacks – Gregor Blanco added to the outfield mix
By Joseph Jacquez
Mike Hazen, general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, signed outfielder Gregor Blanco to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.
To seek a productive left-handed bat, the Arizona Diamondbacks added veteran outfielder Gregor Blanco to the depth chart.
This off-season, general manager Mike Hazen made it a priority to add a left-handed bat. Blanco is the second bat Hazen has added that hits exclusively from the left side. Blanco signed a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
In November, Arizona claimed Jeremy Hazelbaker from the St. Louis Cardinals. Hazen also acquired switch hitter Ketel Marte from the Mariners in a trade that brought over right-hander Taijuan Walker.
Blanco, 33, spent the last five years with the San Francisco Giants. He won two World Series titles in 2012 and 2014 and came up with plenty of clutch hits.
Blanco is a career .253 hitter with RISP, but with a runner on third base and less than two outs, the native of Caracas, Distrito Federal, Venezuela, is a career .366 with 82 RBIs. In 37 career postseason games, Blanco hit .183, but he utilized his speed and scored 21 runs.
Blanco’s veteran presence is a welcome addition to the Diamondbacks clubhouse. Last season, with an average age of 26.5, Arizona was the youngest team in Major League Baseball. Paul Goldschmidt is the only player left from the 2011 roster, and that’s the last time the Diamondbacks appeared in the postseason.
Two Needs Filled
In addition to his postseason experience, Blanco is a career .261 hitter in 753 games against right-handers, with a .347 on-base percentage and a .354 slugging percentage. By comparison, Diamondbacks hitters batted .256, with a .313 on-base percentage and a .417 slugging percentage last year.
Blanco brings superior defensive range to an outfield looking for answers. His career fielding percentage in left- and right field is .990 or higher, and he often makes unbelievable plays. Blanco plays hard and is not afraid to give up his body.
Everybody in the Giants organization remembers this catch…
On Tuesday, Blanco’s agent, Wilfredo Polidor, announced that his client signed a contract with the Diamondbacks on twitter. On the same day, Blanco expressed his excitement.
When Blanco arrives to Scottsdale for spring training, he will likely compete for a backup outfield spot and possibly, a spot on manager Torey Lovullo’s bench. If no additional moves are made and everybody stays healthy, the starting outfield should include A.J. Pollock in center, with Yasmany Tomas and David Peralta surveying the corners.
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Socrates Brito and Hazelbaker, competing alongside Blanco, should get an opportunity to earn a back up role. Brandon Drury proved his versatility last season, and when push comes to shove, he can play the corners to get his bat in the lineup when second, shortstop and third base are occupied. Coming into spring training, Drury is the presumptive second baseman.
The Atlanta Braves signed Blanco as an amateur free agent in 2000, and he made his major league debut on March, 30, 2008, at the age of 24. At the 2010 trade deadline, the Braves dealt Blanco to the Kansas City Royals. In 902 games, spanning eight seasons, Blanco is a career .258 hitter.
Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported that Blanco would earn a $1 million base salary if he makes the major-league roster, with potential incentives added on based on games played and plate appearances. If Blanco fails to earn a spot with the Diamondbacks, the deal, according to Cotillo, contains an April 1 opt-out. None of these details have been confirmed by the Diamondbacks.
Next: Who should the fifth starter be?
Blanco appears ready to work and help the Diamondbacks rise within the National League West Division.