Are the Blue Jays interested in Joe Blanton?

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Take from this what you will, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos scouted today’s Orioles-Phillies game. It’s possible he was just getting a look at a division rival, but Morosi notes that Anthopoulos left after Joe Blanton after was done pitching.

Morosi writes that the Blue Jays are interested in pitching and that Blanton is available in the right deal, so this has a chance of being a match on paper. If Anthopoulos was truly there to see Blanton, he probably liked what he saw. The 31-year-old right-hander allowed four hits over three shutout innings while striking out three and walking just one.

Of course, Blanton was limited to just 41 1/3 innings at the major league level last season due to an elbow injury. Even with a strong showing this spring, it’s likely the Phillies would have to eat a portion of his $8.5 million salary for this season in a potential deal.

It’s not clear what direction the Phillies would go if they end up finding a suitor for Blanton. Kyle Kendrick and Joel Pineiro are among the internal alternatives for a rotation spot, but they could target Roy Oswalt if they get some salary relief.

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”

While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.

The deal has not been confirmed by the team.