Monday, December 29, 2014

Phillies sign Blanco

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies and Nationals are trading castoffs all of a sudden.

Phillies sign Blanco

"I honestly believed we still had Chase Utley playing for us opening day," Ruben Amaro Jr. said. (David M Warren/Staff Photographer)
"I honestly believed we still had Chase Utley playing for us opening day," Ruben Amaro Jr. said. (David M Warren/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies and Nationals are trading castoffs all of a sudden.

Andres Blanco, a 27-year-old utility infielder, signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies on Saturday, two days after he was released by Washington.

Blanco will report to minor-league camp later Saturday, but he stands a chance to play in Philadelphia this season. In 32 Grapefruit League at-bats with the Nationals, Blanco had two hits and scored three runs.

Upon his release earlier in the week, Washington manager Davey Johnson remarked the Phillies would have interest in Blanco.

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The Phillies are scouring the market for any bench upgrades, but it appears Pete Orr (a former National) could enter the season as the utility infielder. Michael Martinez, plucked from the Washington organization last winter in the Rule 5 draft, has a broken foot and will miss at least the first month of the season.

San Francisco released Mike Fontenot on Friday, but he is still owed approximately $700,000 from his $1.05 million deal. The Phillies, according to a baseball source, had talks with Cincinnati about Paul Janish, who is making $850,000 in 2012.

But the team is at or beyond the luxury tax threshold of $178 million, and could decide the utility infield job is best filled cheaply. If they're going to go over the limit, it could be for more important costs.

Blanco, a native Venezuelan, is a career .255 hitter in 235 major-league games over six seasons. He hit .224/.263/.342 for Texas in 82 at-bats last season while playing shortstop, third base, second base and right field. He's known as a slick fielder.

Former Phillies Jayson Werth and Brad Lidge will make the Nationals. Chad Durbin, a nonroster player, has a chance to be in the bullpen. Washington also cut Jason Michaels earlier in the week.


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Matt Gelb Inquirer Staff Writer
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