Joe Blanton To Red Sox Talk 'Never Was Serious'

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Joe Blanton Talks Diminish, Theo Epstein And Red Sox Dodge Bullet

After acquiring Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford this offseason, many believed that Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox were done with their big money moves and they would simply focus on addressing their immediate needs.

Yet it looked like general consensus would be wrong again when rumors surfaced on Tuesday that the Red Sox and Phillies were in talks that would have sent pitcher Joe Blanton to Fenway Park.

Now, reports have indicated that there really wasn't anything behind the talks, and that the Blanton-to-Boston deal is dead. Thank you, baseball Gods!

Blanton, a seven-year veteran, would have reportedly been unloaded by Philadelphia following the signing of free agent lefty ace Cliff Lee in order to clear cap space. Blanton is projected to make $8.5 million in both 2011 and 2012.

After playing in Oakland for the first five years of his career, Blanton was traded to Philadelphia on July 17, 2008, in exchange for prospects Adrian Cardenas, Matt Spencer and Josh Outman. Blanton has a career 72-60 record with a 4.30 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP, 777 strikeouts and 335 walks. He is 47-46 with a 4.25 ERA in the American League and has a 25-14 record with a 4.38 ERA in three National League seasons.

While Blanton is undoubtedly a serviceable starter, one who is capable of starting in any Major League rotation (except Philadelphia's, apparently), his acquisition by Epstein would not have made much sense.

The Red Sox have six potential starting pitchers under contract as it is. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka make up Boston's projected five-man rotation entering the 2011 season, with Tim Wakefield available in the bullpen for the occasional spot start.

That being said, Epstein may have had a plan to use Blanton in the bullpen, but it would have come at a high cost. With Blanton being owed $16 million over the next two season, it simply makes more sense to go out and sign other available (and cheaper) relievers, like former Minnesota Twins reliever Matt Guerrier, former Angels closer Brian Fuentes or Twins' Jesse Crane.

All three would come with a high price tag, but it's reasonable to think that Boston could sign Guerrier and Crane at a cheaper price than Blanton.

Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers and Scott Downs of the Angels have been the league's highest paid free agent relievers this offseason, each receiving three-year contracts worth between $15-$16 million.

Fuentes would come at a steeper price, as the 34-year-old earned a whopping $9 million last season with the Los Angeles Angels and the Twins.

It's not inconceivable to think that Blanton would have been brought in to be a spot starter, as injuries to starting pitches are all to common at the major league level. The Red Sox experienced that first hand, with Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and others missing time the past few seasons.

Being the General Manager of the Red Sox, Epstein certainly had more than enough capital to make the move, but thankfully didn't. Now the Red Sox can focus on signing other relievers at a much cheaper price.


Joe Blanton To Red Sox Deal Reportedly 'Not Likely'

As Tuesday morning moves along, it is seemingly more and more likely that the Red Sox will not be trading for Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton. Though it's not completely dead -- ESPN's Jayson Stark says that it's "not likely" but adds that Philadelphia has "kicked tires on Mike Cameron," which would make sense, considering he's earning $7.5 to be the team's fourth outfielder now that Carl Crawford has joined the team. 

But that doesn't mean the Phillies are content with Blanton sticking around -- he's due $17 million over the next two seasons, and that's a contract Philadelphia would rather do without. So where might he be headed? 

Tim Dierkes over at MLB Trade Rumors offers his speculation, led by the Brewers, Nationals and Twins: 

Blanton could be a nice alternative for a team that doesn't want to go to three years on Carl Pavano. He may be best suited remaining in the National League, though that would limit the market significantly.

Dierkes also lists the Rangers, Mariners, Orioles, Royals and A's ... and the Yankees. After missing out on Cliff Lee, they may need to swallow their pride for another starter. 


Joe Blanton To Red Sox Talk Reportedly 'Never Was Serious'

Following the Phillies' five-year deal with Cliff Lee, rumors started swirling early Tuesday morning that Philadelphia was set to ship pitcher Joe Blanton and the $17 million owed to him over the next two years to the Boston Red Sox. But nearly as quickly as Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal tweeted that news, a handful of reporters shot down the report, beginning with WEEI's Rob Bradford. 

Now's Sean McAdam has quoted a source who said of the Blanton rumors that they "Don't know where this is coming from.'' The Herald's Scott Lauber has added that sources from both the Phillies and Red Sox say the talk "never was serious."

And for the complete reversal, Rosenthal is now saying that "Some with Phillies want to keep Blanton."

Some with #Phillies want to keep Blanton. 2 yrs left. Safety valve in event of injury or Oswalt exit after '11. Payroll the issue. #MLBless than a minute ago via web


That seemingly was always the case, that the Phillies would be making the move to dump Blanton's salary. So why Boston? They already have Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett set in their rotation. Too much pitching is never a bad thing, of course, and injuries are always a concern, but $8.5 million is an expensive insurance option (especially if you try to stick Blanton in the bullpen). 

Of course, there's the fun theory that the Red Sox would do the Phillies a favor by taking Blanton's salary as a thank you for signing Cliff Lee, and keeping him from the Texas Rangers and more importantly, the New York Yankees.

For now though, all the Blanton-to-Red Sox talk seems like just that: talk. 

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