As time continues to pass this offseason the number of free-agent relief pitchers shrinks. On Wednesday, former Kansas City Royals closer Greg Holland reportedly agreed to terms with the Colorado Rockies on a one-year deal with a vesting option.
Holland was among the relievers the Los Angeles Dodgers have been connected to this winter, both prior to and after re-signing Kenley Jansen. While the Dodgers have addressed significant needs on their roster, rounding out the bullpen remains necessary.
Los Angeles agreed to terms with Brandon Morrow, formally of the San Diego Padres, on a Minor League deal that includes a non-roster invitation to Spring Training. However, that should not preclude the club from potentially re-signing Joe Blanton.
He arguably sits atop the list of available relievers, and has drawn interest from the Dodgers and other teams. The most recent of which appears to the Cleveland Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
Next move or moves for #Indians might be nothing more than minor-league signings. But team is doing background work on Blanton, others.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 25, 2017
Blanton went 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA, 3.33 FIP and 1.01 WHIP in 75 appearances last season. It was the first year the 36-year-old was exclusively used as a relief pitcher. He started for the Royals before moving to the bullpen last season, and was only used as a reliever by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Opponents hit just .194/.263/.310 off Blanton in 2016, and he averaged nine strikeouts per nine innings. Blanton did struggle against the Chicago Cubs during the National League Championship Series, hanging sliders at inopportune times.
That resulted in the veteran finishing with a cumulative 7.88 ERA in seven postseason appearances. If Blanton is to return to the Dodgers, it may have to come on a one-year deal, as that’s said to be the club’s preference with relief pitchers.