The Oakland Athletics announced on Monday that they signed former Angels pitcher Joe Blanton to a minor league deal, assigning him to Triple-A Sacramento. For Blanton, who was originally drafted by the Athletics, the signing results in a homecoming as well as an opportunity to bounce back from a forgettable year with the Angels. But it's also a quality addition on the part of Billy Beane and the A's.
The @Athletics have signed Joe Blanton to a minor league deal. He will join the River Cats starting rotation.— River Cats (@RiverCats) March 31, 2014
Sure, Blanton may not be a flashy acquisition that can replace injured ace Jarrod Parker, but considering the circumstances, he could certainly provide the Athletics with some good bang for their buck if brought up to their big league roster.
With the way things currently sit for the A's, there is a very real possibility that Blanton could get called up sooner rather than later. As of Monday, Jesse Chavez, who has made just seven career starts over parts of nine seasons, was slated to be Oakland's third starter—joining Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone in an injury-riddled rotation. Chavez has pitched well to this point in his two seasons with the Athletics, but in a very small sample size—meaning Bob Melvin could be quick to look elsewhere if Chavez struggles.
Drew Pomeranz, currently one of two lefty relievers in Oakland's bullpen, was originally drafted as a starter and would be more than capable of making a spot start if need be. But with Sean Doolittle as the only other lefty in the Athletics' relief corps, Melvin may very well prefer to give Blanton the starting spot over Pomeranz if such a situation arose.
Many seem to think that Blanton's career is essentially over, as he is coming off a career worst 6.08 ERA in 20 starts with the Angels last year. However, while it's unlikely Blanton comes in and pitches 3.00 ERA-ball in Oakland, the Athletics' spacious home ballpark and top-tier defense could definitely go a long way in helping Blanton return to form. If another Oakland starter goes down, don't be surprised if Blanton's name is called to slide into the rotation, and don't have a funny look on your face if he's putting up solid numbers again either.