Non-tendered by the A’s two weeks ago, Kyle Blanks has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Rangers.
Blanks was once a top prospect in the Padres’ farm system and had an impressive rookie season in 2009, but injuries have derailed him since then and now at age 28 he’s trying to stick in the majors as a role player.
Blanks is a huge first baseman with some ability to play the outfield corners if needed and has hit .301 with 34 homers and a .969 OPS in 148 games at Triple-A. Texas seems like a pretty good landing spot for him and if nothing else Blanks should be able to knock around left-handed pitching.
For months Dan Haren indicated that he’d rather retire than play for a non-California team, which became an issue last week when the Dodgers traded him to the Marlins.
Haren is under contract for $10 million in 2015, which the Dodgers essentially paid the Marlins to take whether he retires or not, but now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says Miami may try to trade Haren “if he plans to retire.”
Assuming that Haren sticks to his California-or-bust plan, the Angels, Padres, A’s, and Giants are the only options and he’s already played for the A’s and Angels. Haren’s performance has slipped from his prime levels as a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he still looks capable of being a solid third or fourth starter at age 34.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has the details on reliever Kyuji Fujikawa’s one-year contract with the Rangers, reporting that it’s worth $1 million in guaranteed money plus incentives.
Fujikawa is 34 years old and still needs to prove that he’s fully recovered from Tommy John elbow surgery, but it’s a smart, low-cost gamble for the Rangers.
He was good enough in Japan to get a two-year, $9.5 million deal from the Cubs two offseasons ago, posted a nice 31/8 K/BB ratio in 25 innings as a big leaguer when not injured, and pitched well in the minors.
In making no effort to re-sign free agent Adam LaRoche the Nationals signaled that first base is Ryan Zimmerman’s new full-time position after shoulder problems forced a move for the former Gold Glove third baseman.
Nationals manager Matt Williams, who played 17 seasons as a third baseman and logged just 106 career innings at first base, told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com that he’s “pretty confident” Zimmerman will fare well across the diamond because “he’s an athlete … he can do it.”
Zimmerman said he plans to put in a lot of work at first base during spring training after getting only a crash course there previously:
That’s going to take a lot of work. Everyone thinks you just go over to first base and kind of hide him there, but it’s a tough position. There’s a lot of things I have to learn, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Zimmerman has five years and $74 million remaining on his contract and the Nationals’ outfield is set with Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth flanking Denard Span, so one way or another it’ll work for him at first base.