Ex-Cats

Report: Former UK pitcher Joe Blanton signing with Nationals

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Joe Blanton throws during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, July 24, 2016, in St. Louis. The Dodgers won the game 9-6.
Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Joe Blanton throws during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, July 24, 2016, in St. Louis. The Dodgers won the game 9-6. AP

Setup man Joe Blanton and the Washington Nationals agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Tuesday because the agreement had not been announced.

The 36-year-old Blanton, who starred in high school at Franklin-Simpson and in college at the University of Kentucky, was a free agent after pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016, when the right-hander went 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 80 innings across 75 regular-season appearances. He then went 1-0 and allowed only one hit in five scoreless innings in four games for L.A. during an NL Division Series victory over Washington.

Formerly a starter in the majors, Blanton has become a reliever and adds to the Nationals’ crop of bullpen arms. The team does not have an experienced closer after Mark Melancon left as a free agent to sign with the San Francisco Giants.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, signed reliever Sergio Romo from the Giants to fill Blanton’s previous setup role.

Blanton is 99-93 with a 4.35 ERA in 12 seasons with six clubs. He has appeared in a total of 376 games, 124 in relief.

He joins a Nationals bullpen that also includes Kentuckians Trevor Gott (Tates Creek, UK) and Shawn Kelley (Ballard), plus Blake Treinen, Koda Glover, Oliver Perez and Sammy Solis.

Blanton’s agreement, which also includes up to $1 million in performance bonuses, was first reported by The Washington Post.

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