Multiple reports indicate that the Angels have agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract with free agent starting pitcher Joe Blanton. The 31-year-old is not going to win a Cy Young, but he will stomach innings and he’s a nice addition to a club that lacked rotation depth in 2012.
Blanton has tossed 175+ innings in seven of the past eight seasons. He isn’t the most effective starter in baseball, but he stays healthy and he doesn’t walk a lot of batters. Angel Stadium and the Angels’ defense are also pretty good fits for Blanton. The Big A is known for suppressing home run rates, and the Angels have above-average potential at every defensive position.
Throughout his career Blanton has been more of a flyball pitcher with some strikeout ability. He’s developed excellent control of all of his pitches, but he struggled to keep the ball in the park this past season. 15.3 percent of his fly balls landed in the seats, well above league-average (which is typically around 10 percent). In 2012, he also had a higher-than-average line drive rate (23.4 percent!); Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos are pretty good at making those into outs.
This might be my favorite deal of Jerry Dipoto’s tenure as the Angels’ GM. It shows that the Angels don’t need to spend like maniacs to be successful. $7.5 million per year for a pitcher of Blanton’s caliber is chump change, and it still leaves plenty of cash available to fill different needs.
Every deal the Angels have made could be scrutinized heavily if Zack Greinke walks. People will complain about how spending money on Hanson, Madson, Blanton, and Burnett put Greinke’s asking price above the Halos’ budget, but the front office isn’t stupid. They know how high they’re willing to jump for Greinke, and if he’s already balked at that high it just makes sense for them to search for cheaper depth.