The Washington Nationals and right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton have agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal, per Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. The deal also has several incentives attached to it.
If Blanton pitches 50-60 innings for the Nationals this season, he will earn an extra $250K. The $250K doubles if he pitches 70 innings, which all depends on the health of the Nationals pitching staff. FanRag Sports Jon Heyman and Castillo report that Blanton will also receive an additional $3 million in deferred salary. $1 million of that salary will be paid to Blanton in 2018, with the other $3 million coming in 2019.
Blanton was one of the best relievers in baseball last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers as he went 7-2 with a 2.48 earned run average in 80 innings of work. Blanton also struck out 80 opposing batters relying on at on on his slider, with the slider accounting for 39% of his total pitches.
In a Washington bullpen that has a lot of question marks, the 36-year-old Blanton can fit in almost everywhere. He can be a early inning reliever, a middle reliever, or a reliever that you count on to get the ball in your closer’s hands come the 9th inning to save the game in a setup role. It is currently not yet known where Blanton will fit in with the Nationals’ bullpen, but it will likely be a late inning role.
This is once again a very impressive late in the free agency period signing by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. In-addition to signing Blanton today, Rizzo recently signed Matt Wieters to be the team’s starting backstop, and Adam Lind to come off the bench and backup Ryan Zimmerman at first.
Rizzo is also still reportedly exploring the trade market to add another long inning reliever after missing out on Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman, and Kenley Jansen this winter. David Robertson is a name to keep an eye on, as the Nationals have expressed interest in him for much of the off-season.
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