Hank Blalock is (a) hitting 375/.435/.552 in Triple A; and (b) has the right to opt-out of his deal with the Rays and become a free agent if they don’t do something with him. Yesterday, Scott Boras told Mark Topkin of the St. Pete Times that he’s poised to do just that:
“I would imagine that we’ll probably know something about Hank in the
next seven days. The time has come. The
time has come. He’s playing third base, obviously he’s hitting well,
he’s a young guy. The thought many teams had about players have come to fruition as
we expected in the first five-six weeks. I think a lot of people
understand Hank’s a better choice for them, so we’ll see. Obviously the
first hurdle is that Tampa Bay has to make their decision.”
He’s not wrong. The Rays obviously don’t need a third baseman, but DH Pat Burrell isn’t hitting for squat right now and Carlos Pena is in a terrible slump and Blalock can play first base too. Maybe the Rays think it’s too much of a jolt to team chemistry to call Blalock up to replace either of those guys, but calling him up to sit on the bench doesn’t enhance his trade value either.
The Mariners would probably trade a prospect, their moose, Ken Griffey’s pajamas and Mike Sweeney’s boxing gloves to have Blalock right now. I’m not sure if they match up well with the Rays’ interests, of course, but I’m having a hard time seeing Tampa Bay simply let a valuable asset simply walk right now.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.