The Philadelphia Phillies traded for Joe Blanton midway through the 2008 season, and the former Oakland A’s ace played an instrumental role in the team’s success down the stretch. He went 4-0 in 13 starts and hit a home run in his only World Series start, helping the Phillies capture the their first World Series championship in 25 seasons.
Blanton followed with his best year as a pro in 2009, going 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA in 195.1 innings pitched. The Phillies rewarded him with a three-year, $24 million extension that expires after this coming season. Blanton struggled in 2010, going 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA and barely pitched in ’11, logging just 41 innings while battling an elbow injury.
The Phillies have been shopping Blanton around all winter, as has been their offseason regimen for quite some time now. No one will likely pay $8.5 million for a 31-year old starting pitcher coming off an elbow injury and just one win, but if the Phillies pay part of Blanton’s salary, it’s not at all inconceivable to think one of the league’s top teams could trade for Blanton.
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox both seem to have an influx of starting pitchers already, but if the Yankees trade A.J. Burnett – as is expected – and one of their starters suffers an injury, they could be in the mix for a guy like Blanton.
The Phillies would then be expected to sign Roy Oswalt, as he has not signed with any team yet this offseason and the market of available teams is growing slim. If the Phillies trade Blanton and cannot sign Oswalt, they will assuredly give the fifth starting spot to Kyle Kendrick, but keeping Kendrick as a long reliever and spot starter is ideal to putting him in the rotation already.
Blanton is what you see – he’s a career third or fourth starter that eats up innings and can win 10-12 games in a good season. He has battled an elbow injury but he strikes out a good amount, limits his walks, and is a good veteran to have on the staff. If a team sees a starter go down in spring training, a veteran like Blanton all of a sudden becomes an attractive find.