Catcher Henry Blanco agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract to serve as a backup to starter Miguel Montero, a left-handed hitter. Blanco, a righty, is a career .227 hitter who is more recognized for his arm, defense, and ability to handle pitchers. Blanco threw out 50 percent (11-of-22) of the runners attempting to steal on him in his only season with Mets in 2009, and his career rate is an astounding 43 percent. John Hester, who would have backed up Montero if not for Blanco, has a career rate of 16 percent. Blanco hit .215 with two homers and eight RBI in 110 at-bats with the Mets last season.
Corner outfielder and first baseman Xavier Nady agreed to a one-year, $1.75 million contract and can earn an additional $1 million in performance bonuses. He is expected to fill the final opening on the roster, a right-handed bat who can play left field. The D-backs skew left-handed there with OF Gerardo Parra and 1B/LF Brandon Allen being the top two candidates. Nady had 20-homer seasons in 2007 and in 2008 before missing almost all of 2009 following Tommy John surgery. He hit .256 with six homers and 33 RBI in 119 games with the Chicago Cubs last season, when he started 48 games at first and 26 in the outfield. He also gives the D-Backs another option at first behind Juan Miranda and Allen.
In order to make room for Blanco and Nady on the 40-man roster, the Diamondbacks
released utility man Rusty Ryal and designated right-handed reliever Roque Mercedes for assignment. Ryal had been with the organization ever since he
was selected in the 14th round of the 2005 draft. Mercedes was acquired in
the Felipe Lopez trade of July, 2009, and could still pitch in the minors for
Arizona if he is not claimed off waivers.
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