Joe Blanton MLB Rumors: 5 Possible Suitors for Phillies' Cliff Lee Cast-Off
The Cliff Lee contract will eventually impact almost everyone in the league in some way, but for Philadelphia Phillies' right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton, that time is now. Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro acknowledges he will eventually need to make a trade to move some money and make room in the team budget for Lee.
Blanton, 30, posted a 4.82 ERA in just over 175 innings with the Phillies in 2010. His numbers consistently suggest he is better than that, a good command pitcher with an unfortunate propensity to surrender home runs. Blanton has walked only 2.5 batters per nine innings for his career, a solid number.
Blanton has two years and $17 million total remaining on his contract, a three-year pact he signed during his final year of arbitration eligibility last winter.
Read on for the five teams who make the most sense as suitors for Blanton.
5. Washington Nationals
They signed Jayson Werth, but that did not seem to dampen the Nationals' enthusiastic pursuit of Lee over the past week.
Werth and Blanton may yet be re-united, because Washington continues to search for another starting pitcher.
Blanton would be relatively efficient for the team, as they need to add an arm, but likely will not be willing to meet the asking prices for available trade targets like Zack Greinke or Matt Garza.
With Stephen Strasburg shelved for the season, Blanton would be the de facto ace in Washington.
4. Texas Rangers
Inevitably, the Rangers must add to their rotation now that they have missed out on Lee.
They probably would not relish giving away young talent to the team that swooped in and stole Lee away, but Blanton could fit as a mid or back-end rotation guy in a very deep pitching staff if the Rangers choose to go that route.
3. Los Angeles Angels
Armed with ample money to spend, but almost no one left on which to spend it, the Angels may reach out and grab up a couple players who are being moved for minimal returns in order to free payroll on other clubs.
They could fit well for Philadelphia if Amaro is willing to accept a high-risk prospect in return for total fiscal relief.
Blanton would have to beat out Scott Kazmir just to stay in the Angels' rotation, but a little depth never hurt anyone.
2. Minnesota Twins
Minnesota is the dream destination from Blanton's perspective: He fits the Twins' pitching philosophy to a tee, and his vulnerability to gopher balls would be greatly mitigated by a move into roomy Target Field.
The Twins remain the favorites to ink free agent Carl Pavano, but GM Bill Smith is a shrewd baseball man: Minnesota might decide it would be more efficient to trade for Blanton than to invest substantially more money in Pavano, 35 in January, over three years.
1. New York Yankees
The Yankees have long had the luxury of considerable organizational pride, meaning that any rival who outbid them on a top-flight free agent could expect retribution but not cooperation.
In the brave new world order that has come about since the death of George Steinbrenner, though, the Yankees have (at best) four big-league starters.
They are desperate, and since their odds of landing Carl Pavano are slim to none, Blanton is by far the most attainable and decent option out there.
This one is a no-brainer, but for the rather unpredictable inter-organizational politics involved.