Talking about the addition of veteran reliever Joe Blanton (on what is reportedly a 1-year/$4M deal), Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters Wednesday afternoon that the right-hander was a significant addition to the bullpen.
“You’re adding a quality guy,” Baker said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“You’re adding quality to our team, to our bullpen. You’ve just got to find out now, depending on how he throws, because he fills a lot of roles.”
Blanton, 36, spent the 2016 campaign in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen, posting a 2.48 ERA, a 3.33 FIP, 26 walks (2.93 BB/9), 80 Ks (9.00 K/9) and a .194/.263/.310 line against in 75 appearances and 80 innings pitched.
Baker would not commit to what role Blanton will fill in the bullpen, but the right-handed reliever has transitioned to relief work after starting early in his career and worked exclusively out of the bullpen last season in LA.
The deal, reported earlier this week, was, as usual, pending a physical and the Nationals made the signing official this morning.
“Blanton reached career marks and ranked among National League relievers in ERA (10th, 2.48), opponent batting average (10th, .194) and WHIP (13th, 1.01),” in 2016, the Nationals noted in a press release on the signing, and “...pitched more than one inning of relief 16 times, recording a 2.28 ERA (7 ER/27.2 IP) in those outings, and threw at least two innings on seven occasions (1.29 ERA).”
In order to make room for Blanton’s addition on the 40-Man roster, the Nationals DFA’d catcher Spencer Kieboom this morning.
Kieboom, 25, is a 2012 Nats’ 5th Round pick, who spent the 2016 campaign at Double-A Harrisburg, posting a .230/.324/.314 line with 11 doubles and five home runs over 94 games and 359 plate appearances, and he made his MLB debut in September after he was added to the 40-Man in November of 2015 to protect him from selection in that winter’s Rule 5 Draft.