It’s kind of like that present of socks or underwear you get every year from someone at Christmas. With the Dodgers making room in hopes of bringing in Bryce Harper or a big-name starter, and the Yankees wine-ing and dine-ing Manny Machado just a borough over, Mets fans definitely weren’t dreaming of Gregor Blanco this week.
But, hey, when the time comes, it will probably be a useful signing. Just like you might find yourself needing those socks after a few old pairs inevitably get lost in the laundry.
The Mets announced Friday night that they have signed the 34-year-old outfielder to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training.
The native of Venezuela has spent parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues with the Braves, Royals, Giants and Diamondbacks, winning two World Series rings with San Francisco.
A lefty-hitter, Blanco has a career slash line of .255/.338/.348 with 26 homers, 235 RBI and 122 stolen bases over 1,060 games.
Blanco is perhaps best known for the catch he made to preserve Matt Cain’s perfect game on June 13, 2012 against the Astros. He laid out for a diving snag on Jordan Schafer’s fly ball in the seventh inning.
Last week, the Mets also signed outfielder Rajai Davis to a minor-league deal with an invite to big league camp. After dealing Jay Bruce to the Mariners to get second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz, the Mets have Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares as their Opening Day outfield. They have Jeff McNeil and Dom Smith as potential backups and they have a hope that Yoenis Cespedes will return from surgery on both his heels by late July and be able to play every day.
That means there are not any big Christmas surprises currently in the works for fans this year. With their history of injuries, and Cespedes and Lagares constantly struggling to stay on the field, having Blanco and Davis could end up being very smart moves in July or August.
While the Mets had floated the idea of signing a right-handed outfielder like A.J. Pollock this winter, new GM Brodie Van Wagenen indicated that no longer was a focus. After signing right-handed hitting catcher Wilson Ramos last week, in fact, several sources hinted that the Mets were likely done with major moves this winter.
They have a few pieces they still want to fill in and a source on Friday said they remained involved in talks with teams and agents for “minor” moves. They have been in contact with the Rangers about left-hander Mike Minor, but a source said Friday afternoon “nothing is imminent.”
Minor, who missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons after surgery to repair a torn labrum, returned to baseball in 2017 as a reliever with the Royals. He worked with current Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland there with some success, pitching to a 2.55 ERA over 77.2 innings.
The 30-year-old signed a three-year deal with the Rangers to be a starter before last season and has the Mets on his no-trade list. In 28 starts last season, he pitched to a 4.18 ERA.
The Mets need a lefty for their bullpen and also some insurance for a rotation that has often been plagued by injuries. He could be both, similar to Seth Lugo.
Signed through 2020, Minor is owed over $9 million in the next two seasons.
Van Wagenen came in and made some big, bold and blustery promises at the beginning of his tenure. He made a big splash trading for the American League closer of the Year in Diaz and eight-time All-Star Cano.