Originally posted on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 3/12/12

Joe Blanton's trade stock: rising.

Let’s talk Joe Blanton.

Coming off a 40-inning 2011 season filled with elbow problems, the 31-year-old righty had little trade value from November-to-February. His $8.5 million salary for 2012 appeared too pricey for a pitching-hungry team to bite on, given the health risk and his impending free agency. Why trade anything of value for someone who hadn’t yet conquered injury scares at the most important part of a pitcher’s body? Why take on salary?

That was then. This is March 12. Blanton has made clear that he feels healthy, and more importantly, he has had immediate Spring success after describing the comfort in his elbow. Blanton has pitched five scoreless innings in two starts, which most of us view as a minute sample in relatively meaningless games. But scouts don’t always see things that way.

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos — one of the game’s most creative minds — was reportedly at Blanton’s start last Saturday, and sources told FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi that Anthopoulos left directly after Blanton exited the game.

Are the Blue Jays interested in Blanton? It would make sense.

Toronto’s rotation is captained by Ricky Romero, but the 2nd-through-5th starters are all question marks. Brandon Morrow has exceptional stuff and has proven he can maintain high-strikeout numbers, but a piece of his game is missing. Brett Cecil has had an up-and-down career, experiencing early success then struggling and spending time in the minors. Dustin McGowan has made four starts since 2008. Henderson Alvarez is 21 years old with the chance to be a plus-control fourth starter.

The Blue Jays need a pitcher like Blanton, a steady, reliable mid-to-back end rotation pitcher. It’s cliche to use those adjectives for Blanton, but it’s what he is… a 2.0-to-2.5 win starter from whom you know what to expect from start to start. Blanton isn’t boom-bust, he’s a 6-7 inning, 3-run pitcher. Some teams need that more than others. Toronto is one of them.

What has transpired early in the Spring is a blessing for the Phillies. Blanton being healthy and looking productive gives Ruben Amaro choices and it returns the leverage of a Blanton trade to the Phillies’ side. A few months ago, we were looking at salary relief as the best-case scenario in a trade of Blanton. Now, with another solid exhibition outing, Blanton could fetch a decent prospect and $5-7 million of freed payroll.

David Murphy wrote Monday morning that Blanton is perceived to be available by folks in baseball. Should the Phillies listen? Should they actively shop Blanton? Or should they keep a healthy Kentucky Joe for themselves?

It obviously depends on the return, but I say trade him.

It really comes down to what the Phils value: trade deadline flexibility and the chance to upgrade offensively or a steady fourth starter for the course of a 162-game season in a tougher National League East.

Since the Phillies are playing for October more than May and June, that deadline flexibility is so much more important than the 1.5 wins a healthy Blanton would give them over Kyle Kendrick, Joel Pineiro or Dave Bush. The ability to bring in a bat if the first base platoon fails or if John Mayberry can’t cut it every day in left field exceeds the need for a fourth starter, especially in the playoffs when that pitcher might be needed for a grand total of three starts.

This obviously assumes rotational health come playoff time, but what would you prefer in October, Blanton for those three starts and the same offense you see now, or Vance Worley in that role and the chance to bring in another hitter?

It’s far too early to speculate as to what bats would be available by the deadline, but thinking ahead wouldn’t hurt a team with such a high probability of making the playoffs.

The perception of Blanton has changed quickly. His $8.5 million salary went from a hindrance to an attractive one-year pricetag for a team looking to make a short-term upgrade.

The Phillies have a chance to act while Blanton’s stock is rising. The fans and front office say they want to replenish the minor-league cupboard… this is a way to do that. The prospect wouldn’t be a major difference-maker, but he could be a solid mid-level starting pitcher or infielder who could help two or three years from now.

But most importantly, it would give the Phillies the ability to transfer Blanton’s value to the offensive side of the ball come July.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Russell Westbrook posterizes DeMarcus Cousins to seal win

Tampa Bay Lightning trade star goaltender Ben Bishop to the LA Kings in surprise deal

Divac makes bold promise after trading DeMarcus Cousins

Popovich praises Magic, wishes him well with Lakers

Report: Andrew Bogut likely to join Cavs after buyout

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Broncos expected to 'at least discuss' Romo

Report: Raiders don't expect to keep Latavius Murray

Report: Josh Hamilton needs another knee operation

Ball's father says comment about Lakers was misquoted

Revis hints he is open to taking significant pay cut

Several NBA executives have concerns about Lonzo Ball’s father

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker