The Nationals have reached a one-year, $4 million deal with reliever Joe Blanton, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. The deal includes $1 million in performance bonuses.
Blanton, who turned 36 over the winter, was arguably the best free agent left on the market at this late stage in the offseason. He is the third significant free-agent add for the Nats this month, joining first baseman Adam Lind and newly signed catcher Matt Wieters.
Blanton joins Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, Sammy Solis, Koda Glover and Oliver Perez in a Nats’ bullpen mix that still could see some change before Opening Day. Washington is still looking at trade options like White Sox closer David Robertson (and potentially others) even after acquiring lefty Enny Romero from the Rays earlier in the month.
Blanton posted a 2.48 ERA and 9.0 K/9 in 80 innings out of the Dodgers’ bullpen last year in his 12th major-league season. He has appeared with the Athletics (2004-08), Phillies (2008-12), Dodgers (2012, 2016), Angels (2013), Royals (2015) and Pirates (2015), owning a lifetime 4.35 ERA mark in that span. He has posted two consecutive years as a successful reliever after struggling as a starter for from 2010-2013.
With Blanton off the board, teams still looking for relief help will likely turn to top remaining options Luke Hochevar, Aaron Barrett and Edwin Jackson or comeback candidate Eric Gagne.