We can close the chapter on the Dodgers and Joe Blanton reuniting in 2017. The Washington Nationals have signed Blanton to a one-year three million dollar contract. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post Blanton can earn one million dollars in incentives.
We kept hearing throughout the winter that the Dodgers were still interested in bringing the veteran reliever back, but the likelihood of that happening was remote once the Dodgers signed Sergio Romo. The Nationals have been in desperate need of relievers since they missed out on resigning Mark Melancon.
The Nationals have signed Joe Blanton to a one-year deal, per source. He's in town today, presumably for his physical.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) February 28, 2017
Blanton actually had a very solid season with the Dodgers in 2016 despite my skepticism. The 36-year old right hander posted a 2.48 ERA in 75 appearances with the Dodgers in 2016. He had a 7-2 record and allowed just 55 hits in 80 innings tossed.
Blanton struck out 80 and walked only 26 while posting a 9.0 K/9 rate, and 2.6 BB/9 rate. Blanton also allowed just 6.2 hits per nine innings and allowed just 2 earned runs. Blanton posted a 3.33 FIP and a 3-1 strikeout to walk ratio. Blanton threw five scoreless frames for the Dodgers in the National League division series against the same Nationals. However he struggled in the NLCS against the Cubs. He allowed seven earned runs over three innings against Chicago last October.
Blanton was in his second stint with the Dodgers in 2016, after missing the entire 2014 season. Blanton reinvented himself as a reliever in 2015 putting up solid numbers with the Royals and Pirates before signing a one-year deal with the Dodgers for 2016. He is 36-years old so he may not have many productive seasons left in him.
Perhaps the Dodgers mad the right decision passing on him. Blanton was originally a starting pitcher and pitched for the Dodgers in 2010 after being acquired in an August waiver trade. At that time he was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball. He has since turned his career around after his successful switch to the bullpen and improved slider and curve.
With the departure of Blanton, right hander Romo should assume the primary eighth inning set-up duties as one of the bridges to closer Kenley Jansen. So far Romo has not appeared in a cactus league game for the Dodgers. He is likely to pitch in a couple of games before leaving for the World Baseball Classic. Romo will be pitching for team Mexico. The 33-year old appeared in just 40 games last season for the Giants because of a strained right forearm flexor.