The A’s view Kyle Blanks as another versatile piece to add to a roster that is defined by players who can play multiple positions.
Oakland acquired the first baseman/outfielder from the San Diego Padres on Thursday for minor league outfielder Jake Goebbert and a player to be named later. They designated for assignment first baseman Daric Barton to clear a roster spot for Blanks, who will join the team in Cleveland for the start of a three-game series Friday.
A’s general manager Billy Beane said the team was targeting a right-handed hitter who could capably play both first base and the outfield.
“That’s exactly what we were looking for, and there aren’t many out there,” Beane told CSN California.
What kind of player the A’s get in Blanks, 27, remains to be seen. Over parts of six seasons with the Padres, he’s hit just .228 with 28 home runs and 98 RBI. He’d played just five games in the majors this season, going 2 for 10, and was optioned to Triple-A on Tuesday when San Diego activated Carlos Quentin from the disabled list.
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Blanks, listed at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, was once regarded as a top-50 prospect by Baseball America. But injuries have hit him hard over the years. He had Tommy John surgery on his right (throwing) elbow in 2010 and then surgery on his left shoulder that wiped out most of his 2012 season. He’s also been hindered by right foot and left Achilles injuries.
The A’s, 25-16 and leading the American League West by three games entering Thursday’s play, hope they’ve acquired a player who can unlock some still-untapped potential if he can stay healthy.
“He was a pretty highly thought of prospect coming through the minors,” Beane said. “It looked like he was going to be that guy in the majors until injuries derailed him.”
CSN California confirmed Monday night that the A’s were targeting Blanks after MLBDailyDish’s Chris Cotillo first reported that something was brewing between Oakland and San Diego and that Goebbert could be a prospect heading to the Padres in a potential deal.
Beane indicated that Blanks would see plenty of time at first base against left-handers, meaning Brandon Moss will stay in a platoon at that spot. Blanks also has experience at both corner outfield spots –- the A’s like his defense at first and in the outfield -– and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he gets time in left field against left-handed starters on days Yoenis Cespedes is out of the lineup or at designated hitter.
Whether the left-handed hitting Moss should play regularly against left-handed pitchers makes for one of the great debates surrounding this team. He hasn’t been great against them over his career, but Moss is 8 for 25 (.320) against southpaws this season. Overall, he’s hitting .279 with eight homers and 33 RBI, which were tied for third in the A.L. entering Thursday.
The A’s have won back-to-back division titles utilizing a platoon system at several positions, including first base. The players involved have accepted those part-time roles, generally done well in them, and it’s made for a healthy clubhouse environment that has contributed to Oakland’s success.
And because Moss can also play the outfield capably, the A’s have the option of getting him in the lineup there occasionally and at DH too.
Barton was hitting just .158 with no homers and five RBI in 30 games. The A’s have 10 days to release him, trade him or send him to the minors if he clears waivers, and there’s no guarantee his days in green and gold are over. Barton twice was designated for assignment last season but cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. He eventually made his way back to Oakland and was part of the postseason roster.
Barton can decline a minor league assignment if he does end up clearing waivers.