With the Toronto Blue Jays still needing to strengthen their bullpen, we break down whether or not they should pursue Joe Blanton.
Spring training is edging ever closer, and the Toronto Blue Jays are still looking to address certain areas of the roster. In particular, this includes adding some more arms to the bullpen.
As reported by Fox Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays are attempting to sign two relievers, including a southpaw to replace Brett Cecil. As we wrote towards the end of last week, one possibility is Craig Breslow.
However, the front office would ideally also like to bring in a righty. One option is Joe Blanton, but how realistic is it to expect him to end up in Toronto?
First of all, let’s consider what Blanton potentially brings to the Blue Jays. Despite being 36 year’s old, age does not seem to be an issue, if last season is any indication.
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The Nashville, Tennessee native recorded an impressive 2.48 ERA over 80 innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers, which turned out to be the second-best of his professional career. Similarly, his WHIP of 1.013 was the lowest since his rookie campaign, back in 2004.
Any concerns about this being a one-off can be dismissed, after the free agent had a similarly successful campaign the season before. In fact, his 2.84 ERA and 1.118 WHIP in 2015 are both the third-best of his 12-years in the Majors.
What makes this even more interesting, is the fact Blanton retired from baseball in 2014. However, he later changed his mind and made his comeback the following year, after putting on a pitching demonstration to show interested clubs what he could still do.
In this respect, the main weapons in the 2002 first round draft pick’s pitching arsenal are his 87 mph slider and 92 mph fourseam fastball. His slider is particularly intriguing, in that it is much harder and has less than expected depth compared to the average pitcher’s, resulting in more flyball opportunities.
With all this in mind, Blanton certainly seems like someone who would be useful to the Blue Jays, although he would probably only offer a short-term solution. However — as is often the case with the front office — money will be an issue.
As Rosenthal notes, if the Blue Jays decide to pursue the 2008 World Series champion, he is projected to command a big payday. (Last season, his salary was $4 million.) Signing him would effectively limit their options in terms of picking up a second reliever.
Overall, securing the services of Blanton would undoubtedly strengthen the bullpen. However, it is probably not worth it for fans to get their hopes up too much.
What’s your perspective regarding Blanton? Would you like to see the Blue Jays make a move regardless, or do you have any concerns about the front office pursuing him? Share your thoughts in the comments section.