The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton on Thursday. Additionally, catcher Spencer Kieboom was designated for assignment. Nationals president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo made the announcements.
Blanton, 36, joins the Nationals after a strong 2016 campaign in which he went 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA in a career-high 75 appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 80 batters in 80 innings pitched, the second consecutive season in which he posted 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings. Blanton reached career marks and ranked among National League relievers in ERA (10th, 2.48), opponent batting average (10th, .194) and WHIP (13th, 1.01).
A versatile member of Los Angeles’ bullpen in 2016, Blanton pitched more than one inning of relief 16 times, recording a 2.28 ERA (seven ER/27 2/3 IP) in those outings, and threw at least two innings on seven occasions (1.29 ERA). Blanton was equally strong against right-handed batters (.198 average, 37-for-187) and left-handed batters (.186 average, 18-for-97) in 2016.
Since converting to a relief role in 2015, Blanton has posted a 2.29 ERA with 28 holds while striking out 142 batters in 137 1/3 innings (9.31 SO/9.0) in 107 relief appearances. He has held opposing batters to a .207 average and allowed just 0.72 home runs per nine innings.
A long-time starter in the major leagues, Blanton has a 99-93 career record and a 4.35 ERA. In parts of 12 major league seasons, Blanton has appeared in 376 games (252 starts). His experience also includes 17 postseason games in 11 different series in his career, and he boasts World Series experience as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 and 2009.
Kieboom, 25, is a career .264 hitter with a .341 on-base percentage in 297 minor league games spanning five seasons. The Nationals’ fifth-round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft made his major league debut on Oct. 2, 2016, working a walk in his lone plate appearance and coming around to score in the Nationals’ 10-7 victory over the Marlins.
The Nationals’ 40-man roster remains full.