Teams looking for starting pitching could do worse than Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton.
In fact, Blanton isn’t all that dissimilar from free-agent right-hander Carl Pavano - but at 30, he is almost five years younger.
The Phillies want to trade Blanton, who is owed $8.5 million in each of the next two seasons. Pavano likely will command a higher salary in a two- or three-year deal.
Blanton rates a slight edge in career ERA and strikeout ratio, Pavano a slight edge in career WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Trade interest in Blanton could intensify once Pavano chooses his next team, most likely the Twins. The Nationals, one of the teams interested in Pavano, could attempt to obtain Blanton, and so might other clubs.
The Phillies likely will not demand much in return for Blanton – their goal is to clear as much of his salary as possible after signing free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract.
It is not out of the question that the Phillies will keep Blanton, whose durability would help protect them against injury to one of their top four starting pitchers.
The team, however, will have almost no flexibility for trade-deadline acquisitions if Blanton remains on the roster, according to a source with knowledge of the club’s thinking.
If the Phillies are going to act, they will need to move quickly. A spring-training deal would be unlikely; most teams’ budgets will be set by then.