The Seattle Mariners have once again made a trade with the San Francisco Giants, acquiring INF Alex Blandino and cash from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for recently DFA’d OF Stuart Fairchild. This is a move borne predominantly of roster shuffle and the apparent pact Jerry Dipoto and Farhan Zaidi made that tied their mutual continued existence to letting no 48-hour period occur without a transaction occurring.
Fairchild’s time with his hometown club was brief, as the outfielder spent a good chunk of time on the bench through injuries and COVID outbreaks, but played in just three games, recording three plate appearances and no hits. His reputation as a balanced defender fits the needs of the shorthanded Giants, who continue shuffling their own 40-man roster. With Jarred Kelenic in Triple-A Tacoma and needs on the active roster, Fairchild was the odd position player out in favor of the veteran Steven Souza Jr. for the time being.
The return for Seattle is understandably light. Blandino is a former 1st round pick, selected 29th overall in 2014 by the Cincinnati Reds, making him the third Reds 1st rounder in Seattle’s system, joining OF Taylor Trammell (2016) and OF Jesse Winker (2012). The Mariners actually have had seven Reds 1st rounders on their big league roster at one point or another, with the above two joined by RHP Mike Leake (2009), 1B Yonder Alonso (2008), 1B/OF Jay Bruce (2005), SS Pokey Reese (1991 - though he got hurt and never played for Seattle), and C Dan Wilson (1990). Blandino will hope to be the eighth.
Notably, however, Blandino is on a minor league contract having signed as a minor league free agent, and is not on the 40-man roster. The 29-year-old has played every infield position as a pro as well as moments in the outfield, but primarily is a 2B/3B. He is, in essence, a replacement for Donovan Walton that does not require a 40-man roster spot. He’s handled his infield work well defensively in 135 big league games as is his reputation, but the former Stanford University star has struggled to find his way at the plate. With a patient approach, Blandino has shown excellent pitch selection, avoiding chasing and working long counts to walk at a healthy clip, but a lack of power makes punishing top tier pitching a challenge, and average foot speed hurts his chances of legging out softer contact.
Blandino in 279 plate appearances has a 11.7% out of zone swing rate, so easy to see why the team is interested in him. https://t.co/dxJx3jZJFg— Darren Gossler (@Goose1701) May 14, 2022
Blandino will report to Triple-A Tacoma, which will conveniently be traveling to Sacramento where he’d been stationed starting on Tuesday.