WASHINGTON – Setup man Joe Blanton and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Tuesday because the agreement had not been announced.
The 36-year-old Blanton was a free agent after pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016, when the right-hander went 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 80 innings across 75 regular-season appearances. He then went 1-0 and allowed only one hit in five scoreless innings in four games for LA during an NL Division Series victory over Washington.
Formerly a starter in the majors, Blanton has become a reliever and adds to the Nationals' crop of bullpen arms. The team does not have an experienced closer after Mark Melancon left as a free agent to sign with the San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, signed reliever Sergio Romo from the Giants to fill Blanton's previous setup role.
Blanton is 99-93 with a 4.35 ERA in 12 seasons with six clubs. He has appeared in a total of 376 games, 124 in relief.
He joins a Nationals bullpen that also includes Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, Koda Glover, Oliver Perez, Sammy Solis and Trevor Gott.
Blanton's agreement, which also includes up to $1 million in performance bonuses, was first reported by The Washington Post.
The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018.
Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.
Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.
The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.
Only the Marlins have had as many.
"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."
"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand."
The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.
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While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report.
Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:
"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."
"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.
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