The Oakland Athletics have signed right-hander Joe Blanton to a minor-league contract and he will open the season at Triple-A Sacramento.
The RiverCats official Twitter account broke the news:
The @Athletics have signed Joe Blanton to a minor league deal. He will join the River Cats starting rotation.
— River Cats (@RiverCats) March 31, 2014
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle later reported via Twitter that Blanton will be given a chance to work his way back to the majors:
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 31, 2014
Blanton was released by the Angels on Wednesday after a difficult first season in Anaheim as a free agent. Blanton had a 6.04 ERA and 1.613 WHIP—both career-worsts—and served up 29 home runs in just 132.2 innings, striking out 108. He made 20 starts before being demoted to long relief.
It didn’t seem to get better this spring, as Blanton posted a 7.08 ERA and 1.475 WHIP in 20.1 innings, allowing five homers and striking out 13.
He enjoyed his most success with the A’s early in his career, when he had a 4.09 ERA and 1.317 WHIP from 2005-07, starting 98 games and working 625.2 innings with 363 strikeouts. He led the American League with 34 starts in 2007.
The A’s traded Blanton to Philadelphia in July 2008 after he had a 4.96 ERA and 1.417 WHIP in 127 innings over 20 starts, picking up left-hander Josh Outman, infielder Adrian Cardenas and minor-leaguer Matt Spencer in the deal.
He was traded to the Dodgers in August 2012 for a player to be named (minor-league pitcher Ryan O’Sullivan) and signed with the Angels in December 2012.
Blanton was the 24th overall pick by the A’s out of the University of Kentucky in 2002 and he debuted a little more than two years later, in September 2004.