Will Phillies veteran utility man Andres Blanco return in 2018?

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 02: Andres Blanco #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 2, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 02: Andres Blanco #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 2, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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Andres Blanco has struggled much of this season, but has been a good utility man for the Phillies the past two years. Will he return next season?

The utility man on a Major League roster has one of the toughest jobs in the game. He may go weeks with only a few at-bats or opportunities in the field. One of the most underappreciated positions in the league, Andres Blanco has handled the job well for the Phillies the past few seasons. He’s struggled this year and at age 33, one must wonder if he’ll be part of the team in 2018.

Taking a look back at Blanco’s time with the Phillies, he hit .277 in 45 at-bats in 2014. The next two seasons, one could argue he was the best utility man in the National League. He combined to hit .274 with 37 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs, 46 RBI and .784 OPS in 423 at bats.

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This season, Blanco has struggled for the most part, although he hit .286 with two home runs in just 14 at-bats in August. All told, Blanco is hitting under the “Mendoza line”, at .174 with three home runs and 12 RBI. An overlooked part of his game, Blanco has thrived in the field, making only two errors in 82 chances while playing all infield positions.

Looking at the roster next season, Tommy Joseph has been part of trade rumors.

He could land the team some prospects, hopefully to help the poor pitching staff. That leaves Rhys Hoskins moving to first part, with Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco rounding out the infield. Who will be the back ups?

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It wouldn’t be surprising to see J.P. Crawford land a spot and be part of the rebuilding process. This leaves likely only one spot open in the infield. Ty Kelly is batting .193 in 83 at-bats in a utility role this season, but is only a .214 career hitter. Pedro Florimon was hitting well in a short stint before dislocating his ankle, but his career numbers are poor as well.  Other options could be through free agency or to retain Blanco.

I see 2017 as a blip on the radar for a usually reliable Blanco. Age shouldn’t be much of a factor for a utility player. Blanco is a career .254 hitting, is consistent in the field and is a solid veteran presence on a club that is still relatively young.

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I suspect Blanco to return next season and could finish his career with the Phillies. Years down the road, he could be regarded as one of the finest utility men in team history.

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