There was an interesting signing on Monday. The Rays signed former Texas Ranger third baseman Hank Blalock to a minor league deal. Usually when you hear about minor league signings, it’s for veterans trying to determine whether or not they can a) still play and b) have the desire to play another season. Usually these players are in the twilight of their career, just hoping for one more season.
What makes the signing unusual is that Blalock is only 29 years old. Last season was the first in which he played over 70 games in two full seasons. The effects from two season’s worth of surgeries showed as he went 0.234/25/66 in 462 at bats for the Rangers.
The Rangers, fresh off of paying him 6.2 million a season, decided that with both Chris Davis and Justin Smoak waiting in the wings that it was time to cut ties with Blalock. With teams focusing more and more on youth, Blalock found himself on the outside looking in as Spring Training started.
By signing with the Rays, he essentially is trying to get his career back to where it was. Longoria is at third, Pena is at first and Burrell is the DH, that leaves very little room for this former All Star. However the Rays have a way of making former hot prospects prosper (see Carlos Pena). Maybe this is just what he needs.
Living in Durham, I find myself oddly wanting to see him play AAA with the Bulls. For years, Blalock has been one of my favorite players and to see him on the verge of retirement is difficult to witness, especially since he should be in the prime years of his career.
From a hobby perspective, Hank’s cards are considered commons at the time. Sure there are some dual signed cards with Texeria, that are worth some bucks, but for the most part you should be able to pick up his autograph for $1. Even the card pictured below, which is one of his higher end cards is only selling for $14. I have my fingers crossed for him, that he can change around his career and not be retired by next season.