San Francisco Giants Get Offseason Started by Adding Kyle Blanks


The first few weeks of free agency are traditionally slow, but on Monday night, the San Francisco Giants added a small log to the hot stove flame with their first action of the winter. After declining the options for outfielders Nori Aoki and Marlon Byrd earlier, the Giants were reportedly finalizing a deal to bring in another outfielder, as well as a part-time first baseman, in Kyle Blanks.

Bringing in Blanks isn’t a groundbreaking, world-shaking move. It’s a simple minor league contract to add another player who could potentially help the team this coming season. Blanks has shown flashes of tapping into his potential before, but has never been able to experience any prolonged success in the major leagues.

Blanks is an extremely large man, standing 6’6″ and weighing in around 260 pounds. With a body that looks more suited for a tight end in the NFL, he has the power to match the frame. In the big leagues, he’s hit a home run every 25 at-bats, which is really good for a player who has played as inconsistently as Blanks has.

Injuries have kept Blanks from getting any regular playing time in his seven years as a big leaguer. His rookie season in 2009 was his best so far, as he slashed .250/.355/.514 in 55 games, while hitting nine doubles, 10 home runs, and driving in 22 runs after being called up to replace the injured Cliff Floyd. Blanks’ season was cut short in late-August due to plantar fasciitis.

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He was touted as the San Diego Padres’ future first baseman, and then as their future left fielder, but the team eventually grew impatient, and traded him to the Oakland Athletics in 2014. That came after years of waiting for Blanks’ health to allow him on the field.

In 2010, Blanks underwent reconstructive surgery on his elbow in May, and missed the rest of the season, as well as the start of the 2011 season. In 2012, he tore the labrum in his left shoulder. In 2013, he missed nearly two months because of tendinitis in his achilles. In 2015, a year after he was traded, he missed time because of a pilonidal cyst, and then suffered through achilles tendinitis again. In September, he underwent surgery on both achilles to attempt to alleviate that issue.

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In seven years as a big leaguer, Blanks has played just 278 games, an average of less than 40 per season. In 2013, Blanks appeared in 88 games, by far the highest single-season total of his career. When he does get on the field, he’s a relatively good hitter. His career slash-line is .241/.322/.416, and he’s hit 42 doubles, 33 home runs, and driven in 111 runs. Over a full 162-game season, Blanks averages 24 doubles, 18 home runs, and 65 RBI.

The potential is there for Blanks. He was named an All-Star at just about every level of the minor leagues, and has shown flashes in the bigs. But at 29 years old, the window to tap into that potential is closing.

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This signing is quite reminiscent of last year, when the Giants signed another journeyman outfielder with past injury issues, big potential and a powerful right-handed bat. The Giants brought in Justin Maxwell last offseason on a minor league deal, and after an impressive Spring Training, Maxwell made the 25-man roster. With an injury to Hunter Pence opening a spot, Maxwell took advantage, earning a lot of playing time and coming up with a lot of big hits early in the season.

Blanks should be allotted the same opportunity that Maxwell was last season. It’s on him to take advantage the same way Maxwell did.