Phils sign Blanton to $24 million deal
Right-hander avoids arbitration with three-year extension
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies got some certainty Thursday evening at Citizens Bank Park.
"If you look at the clubs that have had sustained success, it's about having stability in your rotation," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Blanton had sought $10.25 million in salary arbitration, while Philadelphia had offered $7.5 million, but Blanton and the club actually had reached an agreement on the extension on Monday. They had to file arbitration figures Tuesday only because Blanton had not yet passed a physical, which he passed Thursday.
Blanton, 29, went 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA in 31 starts last season. He is 16-8 with a 4.09 ERA in 44 regular-season starts for the Phillies since he joined the team in July 2008.
"I feel the organization just keeps getting better and better," Blanton said. "Two World Series in a row, that's hard to beat. We feel like we have a lot more chances to keep doing that."
Blanton likely sacrificed some money by signing an extension with the Phillies. He was eligible to become a free agent after the 2010 season and a good season would have meant a big payday, but he said the opportunity to remain in Philadelphia outweighed any financial gains. He likes his teammates and the organization.
"You can make all the money there is, but winning, ultimately, is what makes a baseball player happy," he said.
Blanton specifically recalled the night he joined the Phillies, following a July 17, 2008, game with the Oakland Athletics. He walked into the team hotel in Miami at the same time as his new team.
"If it wasn't every player it was almost every player who came by, shook my hand and said, 'It's good to have you,'" Blanton said. "That's a good feeling. It's a great group of guys right there that you want to be with. They went out of their way to introduce themselves and say hello ... ultimately, you see how they treat your family and how good the organization is winning a World Series and reaching another World Series. It just keeps stacking onto the reasons why you want to stay in this organization."
"We paid him $24 million to say all that," Amaro deadpanned.
Blanton will make $1 million in 2010, but he also receives a $6 million signing bonus. That will be paid in $3 million installments in June and October. Blanton will earn $8.5 million in '11 and '12. He also has escalator clauses, which states he will make $8.75 million in '11 if he throws 200 innings in '10, and $8.75 million in '12 if he throws 200 innings in '11.
It is not a stretch to think he could reach those escalator clauses. He is one of just 15 players to throw 1,000 or more innings over the past five seasons.
So what's next for the Phillies?
On Thursday night, sources told MLB.com that the Phillies and Shane Victorino have agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $22 million, which would keep him under contract with Philadelphia through 2012. The extension buys out Victorino's final two years of salary arbitration and his first year of free agency.
And it sounds like the Phillies could lock up Carlos Ruiz, their remaining arbitration-eligible player, to a multiyear extension before the end of next week, according to assistant general manager Scott Proefrock.
If the Phillies can lock up Ruiz, they will have a much better picture of how much more than can spend before Spring Training.
"If we can add some starting pitching depth and bullpen depth, if we're able to do it, we'll try," Amaro said. "I'm comfortable with the team we have going in as it stands right now. But I guess not satisfied is probably the best way to put it. And if we can add to it, then we will. Again, this process will continue through Spring Training and throughout the year. But I think, in a perfect world, we probably would like to add another piece or so."
The Phillies recently have watched free agents Ben Sheets and Eric Gagne throw. Amaro would not say much about either session, although the club will continue to monitor Sheets. Amaro said Gagne threw OK.
Left-hander Scott Eyre has retired, which means Philadelhia has only J.C. Romero as a veteran left-hander in the bullpen.
"As I've said before, it doesn't have to be a left-hander to be improved," Amaro said. "I'd rather take a quality right-hander who can get people out than just a guy who is left-handed and not good enough to make a difference."
Amaro said closer Brad Lidge, who had offseason elbow and knee surgeries, will begin to throw soon. He had no timetable for Romero, who had elbow surgery, or Jamie Moyer, who had groin and knee surgeries.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.