In signing Joe Blanton to a three-year contract, the Phillies have done more than just avoid arbitration; they've also saved a great deal of money. Consider: The Phillies had proposed paying Blanton $7.5 million, while he countered with $10.25 million. Without a new deal, they'd probably have settled for roughly $9 million. As Bill Baer pointed out Wednesday, $9 million would have been fine.
So if $9 million for one year would have been fine, isn't $24 million for three years even better? Here's Beer Leaguer:
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. A moves like this suggests Joe Savery, Mike Stutes, Yohan Flande and Vance Worley have no shot of contributing.
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. It's actually the exact same money they gave Adam Eaton over three years; hopefully, it produces a difference result.
When Eaton got his deal, he'd started 35 games in the previous two seasons. Blanton has averaged 32 starts over the last five seasons. Blanton does eat innings, but the digestion process goes pretty well, too.
The Eaton contract was obviously foolish; the Blanton contract is obviously smart. Which isn't to say he's a sure thing. But 200 innings and a 4.00 ERA is worth more than $8 million per season, and actually quite a bit more. If the Phillies' young pitchers do come through, it shouldn't be hard to trade Blanton for something useful.