The business side of baseball wasted no time rearing its ugly head this offseason, when San Francisco Giants’ outfielder Gregor Blanco made this post on instagram:
Blanco is still a Giant, technically, and will be until the World Series ends and the offseason begins. But he recognizes that his time in San Francisco may very well be at its end. After five years wearing the orange and black, he might be donning a new uniform next season.
The now 32-year-old outfielder literally started at nothing with the Giants. He was brought in before the 2012 season on a minor league contract with a Spring Training invite, as a simple depth signing. But he worked hard, and earned himself a spot on the opening day roster that year.
In his five years with San Francisco, Blanco became one of baseball’s best fourth outfielders. He became the team’s Swiss Army knife. Whenever he was needed, he was there, willing to fill a gap.
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When Melky Cabrera was suspended late in 2012 because of a weird situation with performance-enhancing drugs, Blanco was there. He filled in for Cabrera and was the everyday left fielder as the Giants made a run through October towards their second World Series championship in three years.
When Angel Pagan was hurt during the 2014 postseason run, Blanco was there. He took over the reins in center fielder and helped the team along to another World Series title.
When anyone got hurt in the outfield, and Giants’ fans know that there were plenty of outfield injuries, Blanco was there. Whether it was Pagan, or Hunter Pence, or Michael Morse, or Norichika Aoki, Blanco was always there willing to fill the void.
He had more than his fair share of big moments with the Giants. If not for his efforts in right field on June 13th, 2012, Matt Cain doesn’t throw a perfect game that day. Instead, because of Blanco’s catch, one of the best catches in franchise history, Cain’s name was forever etched in the Giants’ record book.
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Blanco made one of the biggest bunts in team history. In game three of the 2014 NLCS, Blanco laid down a bunt up the third-base line in the 10th inning. He put the pressure on the St. Louis Cardinals’ defense, and they cracked. Pitcher Randy Choate fielded the ball and flung it wide of first base, allowing Brandon Crawford to score the game-ending run. That’s still one of the moments that comes up when the memories of “Even Year BS” (RIP) are invoked.
Blanco will always be remembered as one of those “Good Giants”, no matter what happens this offseason. But baseball still is a business after all, and the cards are stacked against a Blanco reunion, it seems. The Giants have a younger, cheaper alternative already on the roster in Gorkys Hernandez. The two have extremely similar skillsets already (speedy guys with strong defense that can play all three outfield spots), and keeping Blanco for more money wouldn’t make all that much sense. Plus they have younger outfielders with different skillsets, like a Jarrett Parker or an Austin Slater, that could fit well on the Giants’ big league bench.
The Giants went through a similar situation just last year with a similar player. Pitcher Yusmeiro Petit came out of nowhere to become a key piece of the pitching staff, but when his price tag got a bit high, they cut ties to go with a cheaper option.
This has happened for years, and it will continue to happen. Popular players will be let go for one reason or another, and the cycle will continue on and on. Baseball will always be a business, first and foremost.