Phillies avoid arbitration with Blanton

PHILADELPHIA -- Joe Blanton got his reward for consistency and durability.

Blanton and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract that avoided a salary arbitration hearing next month. The 29-year-old right-hander was 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA last year.

"They came to me with the prospect of going long term, and I couldn't have been more thrilled," Blanton said at a news conference Thursday. "I couldn't be happier to have this opportunity to stay in the Phillies' organization. I've enjoyed my time here and I feel like the organization just keeps getting better and better every year."

After making $5,475,000 last year, Blanton asked for $10.25 million in arbitration and was offered $7.5 million. He already had agreed to a new deal before those numbers were submitted.

"Joe has been absolutely outstanding since he's been with us," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's probably been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. His consistency and what he brings to the table for us as a person, we're very pleased to basically buy out two years of free agency and have Joe for the foreseeable future."

Blanton has pitched more than 1,000 innings over the last five years. He joined the Phillies in a midseason trade in 2008 and helped them win the second World Series title in franchise history.

Blanton didn't get a decision in two postseason starts and two relief appearances last fall when the Phillies lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series. He didn't balk at going to the bullpen, despite being one of Philadelphia's most reliable starters during the regular season.

"Winning is what I'm about. That's the big thing," Blanton said.

Blanton won at least 12 games in each of his first three seasons with Oakland. He is 63-54 with a 4.21 ERA in his career.

He gets a $6 million signing bonus, half payable on June 15 and half on Oct. 15. The deal calls for a $1 million salary this year and $8.5 million in each of the final two seasons.

The Phillies now have four starters -- Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Blanton -- under contract through 2012.

"That was part of the reason we went long term with Joe," Amaro said. "If you look at the clubs that have sustained success, it's about having stability in your rotation."

The Phillies are still hoping to add another reliever and a starter to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. They recently scouted former All-Stars Ben Sheets and Eric Gagne. Neither pitched in the majors last season.