It’s safe to say the Minnesota Twins will have at least minimal interest in most any free agent starting pitcher this offseason, and with the Winter Meetings now getting going the rumors should be rampant as the week goes on. It would surely be surprising if the team leaves Nashville without at least one starter secured via free agency or a trade.
A recent report suggests veteran right-hander Joe Blanton is high on the Twins’ list of free agent targets, and the nine-year veteran may get interest from multiple teams that are in search of a proverbial innings-eater in the middle of their starting rotation. But should the Twins have him as one of their top targets?
Blanton spent the 2012 season with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers, going 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA over 191 innings pitched with a stellar 4.88 K/BB ratio (166 strikeouts-34 walks). Last season was also the seventh time he has made at least 28 starts in a season, with only an elbow injury- shortened 2011 campaign preventing a streak of eight straight seasons making at least that many starts.
Overall for his career Blanton has an 83-75 record with a 4.37 ERA in 237 big league appearances (228 starts) for the Oakland Athletics as well as the Phillies and the Dodgers. He had 42 wins over a three-year stretch with Oakland from 2005-2007, setting a career-high in wins in 2006 (16) and career bests in starts made (34) and innings (230) in 2007.
A potential indicator of Blanton’s market value is the three-year, $25 million deal the Kansas City Royals signed Jeremy Guthrie to two weeks ago. The two pitchers are similar age, with Guthrie being 33 and Blanton turning 32 on December 11, and are similarly accomplished with Guthrie having a 4.28 ERA over 210 major league appearances (183 starts).
If a contract similar to Guthrie’s is what it would take to secure Blanton’s services, which is not a guarantee at all at this point despite the fact he made $8.5 million last season, I think the Twins should stay away and let another team spend that kind of money. But if he can be signed to a multi-year deal at a reasonable salary, there should be an easy match since the Twins greatest need in their starting rotation (durability) is also Blanton’s most notable strength.