The Phillies and right-hander Joe Blanton came to terms on a three-year, $24 million extension today, avoiding his final year of arbitration eligibility with a deal that will pay him just $7 million this season.
Blanton, 29, went 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA for the Phillies in ’09 and was reportedly seeking $10.25 million when the two sides exchanged figures Tuesday. He settles for less than the Phillies were offering ($7.5 million) in exchange for some long-term security to stay in Philadelphia. Averaging $8 million a season, the deal is generally in line with what comparable pitchers, like Jason Marquis and Joel Pineiro, received via free agency.
Beerleaguer: Locking in, long-term, with starting pitching became a surprising focus for Ruben Amaro and the Phillies this offseason, but the real key to the Blanton extension could be assembling a back-loaded deal in order to free up dollars in hopes of adding another arm. And, despite what the scouting magazines might say, the perceptions of the Phillies’ farm system may be a tad inflated, especially when it comes to starting pitching in the upper levels.
As for the deal, I’m ok with it; $8 million per seems a tad high, but a decent trade-off considering that the durable Blanton is a couple years younger than Pineiro and Marquis; Blanton will only be 32 by the time his contract expires; Pineiro and Marquis are 31 right now. It's actually the exact same money they gave Adam Eaton over three years, so if he completely bombs like Eaton, which I doubt, it's not too terrible a burden. Blanton is a good pitcher and the Phillies know what they're getting; he was perhaps their most consistent pitcher in 2009 – and I believe the Phillies had an obligation to reward Kentucky Joe’s service to a World Series winner with a little something extra. Overall, this is a better deal for Blanton than it is for the Phils. To me, Blanton is an essential part of the "methodical march" through 162 games, but a non-essential component once the calendar flips to October.
That said, the Phillies are stuck with yet another financial hurdle to clear past 2010, and you begin to wonder how much longer the whole gang can stay together (i.e. Jayson Werth).