Lost in the shuffle of the major Josh Donaldson trade that went down Friday night was the news that first baseman/designated hitter Kyle Blanks and right handed pitcher Josh Lindblom were designated for assignment to make room for the newly acquired players on the 40-man roster.
Blanks performed very well in limited playing time in Oakland last year, after being acquired from San Diego in May for outfielder Jake Goebbert and minor league pitcher Ronald Herrera. Blanks played in only 21 games before going down with a calf injury.
Although he had limited playing time, he made a significant impact, with a .333/.446/.489 slash line and two home runs. He’s not going to hit over .300 over a full season, but his power is legitimate, especially against left-handed pitching. For his career, he has a .244/.342/.409 slash line with 11 home runs in just 295 plate appearances against lefties.
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Lindblom struggled in AAA last year, with 5.79 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 17 appearances. The 27-year-old came over in the Craig Gentry trade last offseason. Letting him go makes sense to me.
The Athletics will have 10 days to trade the players, release them or place them on waivers. If they clears waivers, they would be outrighted to AAA-Nashville.
While the Athletics would certainly love to keep Blanks’s bat in the organization, it should be difficult to get him through waivers. Right-handed power bats seem to be a hot commodity this offseason, and if a team fails to win the Justin Upton/Yoenis Cespedes trade sweepstakes, Blanks could be a productive consolation prize.
I’m a fan of Blanks’s raw power, even if he’s a defensive liability. Just look at this highlight compilation from his 2013 season with the Padres:
This move bothered me more than moving Donaldson did, only because there were other options on the 40-man roster that I would have preferred to see DFA’d, such as Arnold Leon, Jorge De Leon or Taylor Thompson. Considering that the A’s just acquired more young pitching, keeping all three of these guys is puzzling.
While there’s definitely a logjam of first baseman/designated hitter types on the roster, I would have preferred to see one of them get traded for middle infield or pitching help. Designating Blanks for assignment limits the A’s options for another trade, as other teams know that he will be available through waivers later on.
But maybe, his lack of defense and his overwhelming size (6’6’’ 265 lbs) will discourage teams from taking a flier on him, and the A’s will catch a break by outrighting him to AAA. Blanks is no superstar, but he’s a role player capable of making significant contributions. Without a doubt, this move confused me more than the Donaldson trade did.