Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos scouted Joe Blanton’s start for the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday and left the ballpark after Blanton exited the game, major league sources told FOXSports.com.
The circumstances are straightforward: The Blue Jays would like to add experience to their rotation, and the Phillies are willing to listen to offers for Blanton.
Blanton, 31, pitched three shutout innings against the Orioles, allowing four hits. He walked one and struck out three. His starts will be closely scrutinized this spring after a medial impingement in his right elbow limited him to 11 games last year (1-2, 5.01).
Philadelphia’s primary interest in moving Blanton would be salary relief: He is set to earn $8.5 million this season in the final year of his contract. If the Phillies move Blanton, they could use the savings to renew their efforts to re-sign free agent Roy Oswalt. The Phillies spoke with Oswalt’s agent during the offseason, but the sides weren’t able to agree on a contract.
With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia would have one of the top rotations in baseball even without Blanton — or Oswalt, for that matter.
It’s not clear if the Phillies would look to upgrade their everyday lineup via trade. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have yet to play this spring because of injuries, and Howard is likely to miss most of the first half while recovering from a ruptured left Achilles.
Phillies officials have said they are content with their existing options in left field. But the Blue Jays have a two-man competition — Travis Snider and Eric Thames — for the starting job there, raising the possibility one of them could be traded.
Anthopoulos and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. are familiar with one another, having worked on the Roy Halladay blockbuster in December 2009. The teams train about five miles apart and play frequently in spring training.
Toronto’s rotation has upside but plenty of question marks after No. 1 starter Ricky Romero. Brandon Morrow could develop into a No. 2 starter, but he’s coming off a season in which he went 11-11 with a career-high 4.72 ERA. Henderson Alvarez, 21, is inexperienced but possesses electric stuff. Left-hander Brett Cecil reported to camp in much better shape. Dustin McGowan, an inspiring comeback story, has made only four big-league starts over the past three seasons because of a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Blanton is 2-0 with a 4.02 ERA in 10 career postseason appearances (40-1/3 innings). No member of Toronto’s projected rotation has pitched in the playoffs.
— Jon Paul Morosi