Joe Blanton is surprisingly still available as a free agent this late into the year so teams looking for bullpen help should definitely give him a look. One of those teams is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who he pitched for last season.
Spring Training is finally underway yet Joe Blanton is still somehow unemployed. This is the same guy who threw appeared in 75 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and threw 80 innings en route to compiling a 2.48 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 80 strikeouts. He did this while serving as the unofficial setup man for the best regular season bullpen in 2016. He limited opponents to a .194/.263/.310 slash line which is truly remarkable. Now that begs the question, why hasn’t anybody signed him yet? One reason may be that teams might find his asking price a bit too high.
Now on the surface that may not be too much money for a reliever who performed as he did last season coupled with the fact that relief aces received huge contracts this offseason. However, Joe Blanton isn’t a relief ace on the levels such as Kenley Jansen, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, or Aroldis Chapman. He is a complementary piece who would add valuable depth to any bullpen he joins. He is also 36 years of age and was ineffective when the Dodgers needed him most (2016 NLCS). These three factors definitely lower his value.
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The Los Angeles Dodgers recently signed reliever Sergio Romo as a free agent, but they are still looking for more quality arms, or rather they at least should be. Their bullpen should be built around Kenley Jansen, Romo, Pedro Baez, and Grant Dayton. Jansen is the incumbent closer, Romo is a valuable and proven arm, while Baez and Dayton are young (in terms of MLB service) and have shown potential. However, names such as Chris Hatcher, Josh Fields, Adam Liberatore, Josh Ravin, and Luis Avilan will also be competing for spots.
Now they aren’t necessarily bad; they just aren’t the most reliable or exciting of arms. Blanton isn’t a sexy name by any means, but he’s effective and you know what you’ll be getting from him. Last season he was the second best and most valuable reliever for the Dodgers after Kenley Jansen. He pitched whenever and wherever in the game he was asked to. He’d come out as early as the fifth inning sometimes, while other nights he would be the setup man. Being a former starter, he also gave the Los Angeles Dodgersthe possibility of multiple innings if they had to.
So yes, the Los Angeles Dodgers should resign Blanton, but like most things in life, only at the right price. The Dodgers should look to limit the years in the offer because Blanton is only going to be getting older. I say give him two choices: one-year with a high AAV or two years with a lower AAV but more total money. For a one-year offer, something in the range of $5-$6 million dollars should be the cap. Over two years (possible player-option for second year), a total amount of about $8-$9 million is fair.
Negotiations are always tricky so I might be totally off and he might get more. Ultimately you are worth what someone is willing to pay (or maybe the average of all the deals you were offered). Blanton will not come at the MLB’s minimum salary but the Dodgers should not break the bank for him either. Blanton will be a valuable and a much-needed piece for the Dodgers in 2017 but only at the right cost.