The Phillies are still actively shopping Joe Blanton, but general manager Ruben Amaro told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he has no sense of urgency to make a deal for salary relief.
“I really don’t have to do anything,” he said. “We’ll see whether it makes some sense to increase some flexibility for us for later on, but at some point, as I’ve said, we’ve just got to see what we’ve got in Spring Training and move on from there.”
Blanton is owed $8.5 million in both 2011 and 2012, so dealing him would provide the Phillies with some much needed payroll flexibility, not only at the trade deadline this year, but for next offseason, as well.
Amaro rarely reveals anything in his comments to the media, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s simply holding out until Carl Pavano finally signs a contract. Assuming the Phillies would be willing to eat some of his salary, Blanton could make some sense for pitching-starved teams like the Nationals, Pirates and Royals, all of whom have reportedly expressed varying degrees of interest in Pavano this winter.
Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.
Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.
It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.
Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.