Let us, for a moment, look at the convoluted left field position for the Astros. There, we find a collection of players who may or may not be a fit for the long term. Alex Presley appears to be nothing more than a fourth outfielder, and while Robbie Grossman and Jake Marisnick are still question marks. Aside from third base, left field may be the biggest question mark in the Astros lineup.
Given the plethora of holes that Jeff Luhnow is looking to fill this offseason, the Astros may be looking for a low cost, high reward type of signing for left. If so, then Kyle Blanks may be of interest to Luhnow and the Astros.
Blanks, who was designated for assignment by the Oakland A’s following their trade of Josh Donaldson, is certainly a risk. He has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career, having only one season with more than 300 plate appearances. Much like Chris Carter, Blanks trades an ability to make contact for the capability of hitting the ball a long way, as he has struck out in 29.6% of his career at bats.
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However, there may be signs that Kyle Blanks is starting to have everything come together. For Oakland, Blanks produced a .333/.446/.489 batting line, hitting two home runs and actually drawing eight walks in his 56 plate appearances. Of equal surprise, Blanks struck out 13 times, a low total given his career strikeout rates. Yes, the obvious small sample size caveats have to apply, however Blanks performed well enough where he may be worth a look.
Given his injury history and career .234/.319/.407 batting line, Blanks likely would not cost much as a free agent. Chances are, teams will not be lining up to claim him off waivers, potentially giving the Astros a chance at a true bargain. If Blanks performance in his 56 plate appearances for the A’s can truly carry over, then the Astros may be able to find another power bat at a truly reasonable price.
Kyle Blanks would definitely be a lottery ticket, but he could be one that pays off for the Astros. If nothing else, the possible payoff of such a move would make Blanks worth the risk.