This is a bit odd. Not surprising, mind you, but odd.
On Sunday, the Rays were working on some final details with Hank Blalock on a complicated deal that will enable him to opt out if he’s not in the majors. The sides are still expected to come to an agreement.
Blalock signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, presumably knowing that the Rays are stacked with all sorts of hitting talent and that there’s a good chance he’ll easily miss the 25-man roster. Now, it’s not much of a loss to him, because he may be able to opt out if he doesn’t make the big-league roster (thus rendering the idea of a minor-league deal relatively useless), but it raises the question, “What was he thinking?” With the Marlins, Blalock would have received some significant time on the field.
Gaby Sanchez was going to be our starting first baseman regardless of whether Blalock signed with the team or not. The key is that Blalock would have received some playing time at first base playing for us. Check out the bench players available to Tampa Bay, courtesy of Heater Rays author Ricky Zanker of DRaysBay:
Compare that to our bench
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that their bench is superior, with more than a few league average guys or players with strong platoon splits of which to take advantage. We have one defensive stud and a part-time catcher, but that’s about it.
Of course, by signing with an American League team, Blalock gets a chance to DH as well, something he would not have been able to do here. But Pat Burrell holds the DH spot for now, and there are plenty of other players who could DH for them. Competition would still be heavy there. And it wouldn’t be as if Blalock could get 400 PA playing DH for the Rays; he’d likely split time in a similar fashion as he would with Sanchez here. At least in Florida, he would have known that pretty much from the start.
Look, it’s not like I care. Adding Blalock would not have added a win to the team, just some extra bench flexibility and someone to help spell Sanchez during the season. It’s no loss to us, but I find the move a bit of a loss to Blalock.