MLB Rumors: Joe Blanton Won’t Sign For Less Than 2016 Salary
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

One month prior to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Joe Blanton to a one-year contract. It marked the start of Blanton’s second stint with the organization, though he was to serve a different role by pitching in relief.

The addition was largely unheralded, but Blanton quickly proved to be a steal in his first season working as a full-time reliever. Although the expectation was the veteran right-hander would be a long man out of the bullpen, Blanton emerged as a dependable late-inning reliever and setup man to Kenley Jansen.

The 36-year-old was one of nine Dodgers to reach free agency the morning after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Los Angeles expressed interest in re-signing Blanton, but his market this winter has otherwise been relatively dormant.

One potential factor in Blanton remaining unsigned while pitchers have been in camp for multiple weeks and Spring Training games are now being played, is a belief he won’t sign for less than last year’s $4 million salary, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney:

Blanton went 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA, 3.33 FIP and 1.01 WHIP in 75 appearances last season, holding opponents to a lowly .194/.263/.310 batting line. In addition, he averaged nine strikeouts per nine innings.

However, what many may remember most about Blanton’s time with the Dodgers last season were his struggles against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

After firing five scoreless innings in the NL Division Series, he allowed seven runs on seven hits, including three home runs, in just three innings during the NLCS. That resulted in Blanton finishing with a cumulative 7.88 ERA in seven postseason games.

The Cleveland Indians and Miami Marlins were linked to Blanton during the offseason. His remaining on the open market, even with the reported salary demand, is somewhat perplexing considering his ability to contribute on a contending team.

In similar fashion to Chase Utley, the Dodgers could become late players for Blanton, though they no longer have a glaring need for a right-handed reliever after signing Sergio Romo.