He was out of options, I believe.
As to who he was blocking, way to be selective with your names. Let's review the OF talent last year.
- Sano - he was blocked by Plouffe at 3rd.
- Max Kepler - out of options. Do you lose Kepler to keep Hicks? Puh-lease!
- Rosario. Better than Hicks.
- Buxton. At his worst, he's the same as Hicks.
That's a full outfield and you're not even getting into Grossman and Santana yet.
Sounds to me like Plouffe was the one actually blocking the prospects there.
Also, Kepler had an option last year because they used it to start the season.