Desperate for outfield depth, Nationals add Gregor Blanco

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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.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.