Desperate for outfield depth, Nationals add Gregor Blanco

Leave a comment

A day after placing Rick Ankiel on the disabled list and calling up Roger Bernadina, the Nationals added an outfielder in a trade with the Royals, picking up Gregor Blanco for a player to be named.

Blanco was immediately assigned to Triple-A Syracuse.

The 27-year-old Blanco did solid work for the Braves and Royals last season, hitting .283/.360/.367 with 11 steals in 237 at-bats. However, Kansas City declined to carry him out of spring training after signing a couple of other ex-Braves, Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera, over the winter.

Assigned to Triple-A Omaha after clearing waivers at the end of March, Blanco had struggled this season, hitting .196/.284/.286 in 56 at-bats. He did have 17 walks and nine steals for the Storm Chasers.

Unfortunately, that 570 OPS fits right in at Syracuse. Corey Brown, the Nationals’ lone actual outfield prospect in the upper minors, is hitting just .202/.280/.345 in 84 at-bats. The team’s other two outfielders, Jeff Frazier (.143/.196/.238 in 105 AB) and Boomer Whiting (.167/.250/.185 in 54 AB), were playing even worse.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

AP Photo
10 Comments

Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

*

Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.