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Potential Pirates pickup: Kyle Blanks

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the comments to the previous thread, NHPiratesFan suggested the Bucs acquire first baseman Kyle Blanks, who the Athletics designated for assignment in the wake of the Josh Donaldson trade. Count me in.

Blanks is a gigantic right-handed first baseman and outfielder who, in his last year before free agency, would save a bit of money over Gaby Sanchez -- he's projected to make $1.3 million, with Sanchez at $2.7 million. For a player with five years of service time, Blanks is unusual in that he's a mostly unknown quantity. He gets hurt a lot, so his track record is sketchy. But his hitting in the minors, admittedly in some very good hitting environments, is terrific -- he has a career .969 OPS at the Triple-A level. He also hit very well in 56 plate appearances with the A's last year, although he struggled earlier in his career in San Diego. If he were to stay healthy, it's hard to project how he'd produce, but it would be only modestly surprising if he hit, say, 15 home runs in 300 plate appearances.

Blanks is no superstar, but he provides a cheaper, higher-upside alternative to Sanchez as Pedro Alvarez's platoon partner. I like the idea of gambling on Blanks, signing a right-handed first baseman to a minor league deal as a backup plan, and investing the extra $1.4 million in starting pitching, rather than going with a player who's coming off a poor season and who's likely to be in decline. Oh, and as a bonus, the Pirates would be keeping Blanks from the Cardinals if they acquired him.