Pirates add Joe Blanton from Royals

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Just when you thought the trade deadline couldn’t possibly get any more exciting, the Pirates trumped every other move Wednesday night, landing Joe Blanton in a deal with the Royals.

Cash considerations were the reported return for Kansas City. Blanton had just been DFA’d to make room for Johnny Cueto on the roster.

Blanton had a 3.89 ERA and a 40/7 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings for the Royals, making four starts and 11 relief appearances. The 34-year-old former 16-game winner announced his retirement in 2014 before coming back this year.

The Pirates likely will use Blanton out of the pen and hope that their big ballpark can keep his home run totals down. He could always start if needed, but Vance Worley is ahead of him in line should anything open up.

Hinch, Luhnow, will be eligible in 2021 even if there are no games in 2020

A.J. Hinch (left) and Jeff Luhnow (right)
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You no doubt recall that former Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and ex-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow were given the one-year bans and were subsequently fired in January due to the Astros sign-stealing scandal. It’s possible, however, that each of them could be back in baseball without having missed a single game.

That’s the report from Buster Olney of ESPN, who has learned that Hinch and Luhnow will become eligible in 2021 even if there are no games played in the 2020 season. The reason: Hinch and Luhnow’s suspensions are tied to “the end of the 2020 postseason.” In contrast, players who are suspended for PED offenses for violations of the league’s domestic violence policies are suspended for a set number of games. Their suspensions will not begin until games begin and, if the number of games in the 2020 season ends up being fewer than the number of games in their suspension, it will carry over to 2021.

It would not shock me a bit if another team hired Hinch at some point down the road. And, despite the league’s finding that Luhnow fostered a “toxic” environment in the Astros’ front office, I would not be at all surprised if he were hired as some sort of advisor down the road and, potentially, found himself running a team again. His tenure in Houston was discovered to be objectively awful from an ethical perspective, but (a) he won; and (b) he cut costs, and those are the two biggest priorities for most teams. Not necessarily in that order.