Reports of a potential A.J Ellis return should entice the Phillies to bring back not only him, but veteran utility man Andres Blanco as well.
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With the additions of Howie Kendrick and Pat Neshek, plus the resigning of Jeremy Hellickson, the Phillies are showing their continued desire for veteran presences throughout the ball club.
Further evidence of this came out Tuesday when reports of a potential return with veteran catcher A.J Ellis came about, and seem to have legs. According to the report, both Ellis and the Phillies have “mutual interest” in a return.
The moves and discussions the team have been apart of should come as no surprise. With as much young talent the team has, that’s how few veterans the club has.
Enter Phillies free agent Andres Blanco:
Blanco, 32, has been with the Phillies (at the MLB level) since late 2014. He developed into the true professional we see today, and has provided the club with true versatility as well since his arrival.
“Whitey” has slashed .274/.337/.458 (.795 OPS, 116 OPS+) with the Phils, playing all over the diamond (3B, SS, 2B, 1B) during that time. While never being put into the action, Blanco is often listed as the Phils emergency catcher as well.
A broken finger held Blanco back from his regular role this past season. However, he still holds a heck of a lot respect throughout the Philadelphia clubhouse.
Before any big moves are made (if there are any), resigning Blanco is a simple task to accomplish for the club. Looking at the open market, the Braves signed veteran utility man Sean Rodriguez to a two-year $11 million deal, a deal in which Blanco is not going to command. While he’s not currently on the 40-man roster, there are a number of expendable players on it to make room for Blanco and his presence.
Blanco shouldn’t cost too much for the club to retain for a year or two ($6-$8 million over two? $4 million for one year?). And with his valuable presence on and off the field, removing a borderline player from the 40-man (Asche, Klein, Garcia, etc.) shouldn’t be an issue.
If A.J Ellis is indeed back in the fold, I’d expect the club to make a push at retaining their super-utility veteran infielder Andres Blanco as well.