The Washington Nationals went into the offseason in need of a closer, as Mark Melancon reached free agency after spending the second half of 2016 with the club. In addition to Melancon, the Nationals were connected to Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen.
They lost Melancon to the San Francisco Giants, Chapman never seemed to have much interest in signing with the Nationals, and were the runner-up to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jansen’s signature.
Although Joe Blanton is not a closer, the Nationals bolstered their bullpen on Tuesday by agreeing to terms with the veteran reliever on a one-year contract, via Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post:
The Nationals have signed Joe Blanton to a one-year deal, per source. He's in town today, presumably for his physical.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgeccastillo) February 28, 2017
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Blanton’s contract is for a guaranteed $4 million, which matches last season’s salary with the Dodgers:
Source: Blanton deal with #Nationals is for one year, $4M, plus $1M in possible performance bonuses. Pending a physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 28, 2017
Blanton was recently said to be holding to a demand that he at least receive the same amount of salary from last year. Although he hit the skids against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series, Blanton proved to be a valuable reliever for the Dodgers.
In his first full season as a relief pitcher, the 36-year-old went 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA, 3.33 FIP and 1.01 WHIP in 75 appearances. Blanton’s struggles during the NLCS resulted in an inflated 7.88 ERA over seven postseason games.
While Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi expressed an interest in re-signing Blanton, doubt was cast on a potential return when the club signed fellow right-handed reliever Sergio Romo.