Our neverending cycle of minor offseason signings at the Winter Meetings continues, as a pair of starting pitchers have fallen off of the free agent market. Joe Blanton has gotten two years and $15 million (with a third year option) from the Angels, and Jeff Francis has gotten a one year deal to return to the Rockies.
Blanton struggled in 2012 between the Phillies and Dodgers, but won't be moving too far going from Los Angeles to Anaheim. He had a 4.71 ERA for the season, which actually was 4.99 after his trade to the Dodgers and their more pitcher friendly stadium, and Blanton continued to deal with home run issues all season. A high homer rate has been a hallmark of Blanton's career, an issue exacerbated when he shifted from the Coliseum in Oakland to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia in 2008. However, Blanton does possess good command of the strike zone. The good news for Blanton and the Angels is that he might be able to thrive in Angel Stadium, one of the best pitchers parks in the league that should extremely supress his home run total. He'll likely slot in to the third or fourth slot in the rotation (depending on whether or not the team is able to bring back Zack Greinke) behind Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson, and ahead of newly acquired Tommy Hanson.
The Rockies re-signing of Francis is a move much further down the overall totem pole in terms of relevance in the grand scheme of things. Francis was originally drafted by the Rockies in 2002, and was a relatively effective pitcher for them until running into the injury bug late in the 2008 season. Francis, who will turn 32 in January, had a 5.58 ERA with the team over 24 starts in 2012, but managed to pitch to a career-best 3.45 strikeout to walk rate and 50.3% groundball rate. Even in just 113 innings, Francis was a 1.8 fWAR pitcher for Colorado, a team-best among all Rockies starting pitchers. The exact salary Francis will earn is currently unknown, but I imagine it's not very high, and at the worst, this is a solid depth-related signing for the Rockies.
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