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Blum in Arizona

Timing is everything with analyzing signings like this one. The signing of Geoff Blum probably has little to do with the knowledge that Mark Reynolds is much on the market, but until that other string is tied in a knot, the two will dangle next to each other. That dangling state leads folks to wonder whether Blum is the Diamondbacks’ new third baseman or if he’s just the placeholder. And that line of thinking is unfair to Blum and unfair to the Diamondbacks, unless Blum being the starter is the plan, in which case this whole ordeal is just unfair to Diamondbacks’ fans.

The last time Kevin Towers employed Geoff Blum there were legitimate reasons for doing so. His reputation for being a smooth fielder repeated itself like a chorus during those seasons and made his offensive ineptitude tolerable – if only on a platoon basis. Those reasons may no longer apply. The defensive metrics featured on this site no longer hold Blum in esteem. Even if they did, he turns 38 early next season, meaning his lateral movement and quick reactions could nosedive in an instant.

If Blum’s glove is indeed on the downswing, then his employability has plummeted too. He’s not much of a hitter despite switch-hitting status. He’s more likely to face a right-handed pitcher, and has fared okay against them over the last three seasons (2010-2008 wRC+: 100, 76, and 88). His playing time against southpaws is too sparse to hold much value, meaning the weird shift in performance (2010-2008 wRC+: 24, 150, 67) is not proof that Blum’s bat sat in critical condition.

While the financial terms were unavailable at the time of this writing, the Astros declined his $1.65 million option for a reason. That means something like $1.5 million represents the line, while the safe bet is under. If Towers wanted a familiar face with some intangibles – presumably Blum is nice to the clubbies and youngsters alike – then fine. The deal lasting two years instead of one is a bit worrisome, but one has to figure the cost is low enough to absorb without issue. The real issue with this signing is the opportunity cost.

Unlike the Eric Hacker signing, Blum A) cannot be optioned to the minors, and B) will (likely) make more than major league minimum. And to sign a 24th or 25th guy before non-tenders? The demand for Blum simply cannot be that great to demand such decisive action and the addition of another year to a contract that many would have considered one year too many.

This signing would make a lot more sense if it came in February and not November (and for one year instead of two). Timing is often the difference between obtuse and opportune bench player signings.