Mark Mulder’s comeback attempt ending before it really even began thanks to a torn Achilles’ tendon took a dent out of the Angels’ rotation depth, but they still aren’t willing to trust Joe Blanton and his $8.5 million salary.
Blanton went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA last season after signing with the Angels as a free agent and in talking to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times manager Mike Scioscia made it pretty clear that he’s not guaranteed a rotation spot:
There was a crevice in the pitching staff that needed to be filled. It wasn’t a little crack. It was big. … Joe needs to make adjustments and put his best foot forward. He had a terrible season, but when he’s throwing to the best of his ability he’s capable of getting major league hitters out.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement from a guy the team gave $15 million to about 14 months ago. In terms of finding a silver lining in Blanton’s ugly 2013, as usual he posted a nice K/BB ratio at 108/34 in 133 innings, but he also served up 29 homers and that’s always been the biggest problem for him. He figures to be better, mostly because he can’t be worse, but Blanton hasn’t posted a better-than-average ERA since 2009.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.