When Blanton signed with the Nats in early-March, he was believed to be a steal. Nats fans were familiar with him from his days as a starter with the Phillies, but he had reinvented himself as a reliever.
Blanton was coming off of a season in which he pitched to a 2.48 ERA in 80 innings for the Dodgers, and signed with the Nats for a mere $4 million. They did not have a definitive closer at the time, but Blanton would certainly help.
Boy, were we wrong. Blanton had the worst season of his career, pitching to a 5.68 ERA in just 44.1 innings. While he entered the season in a set-up role, he was barely trusted in mop-up duties for most of the season.
After struggling mightily, Blanton finally began to figure things out again towards the end of the season. Throughout September, he only allowed one run in seven appearances.
However, that was not enough for the Nats. Despite his late-season improvement, Blanton did not make the postseason roster. This is a trend that will almost certainly continue.
Next season, there is a better chance of Dusty Baker lacing up his spikes and patrolling the Nationals Park outfield than Blanton stepping foot on the mound for the Nats.
Blanton turns 37 in December, and there’s not much reason to believe that his age-37 season will be much better than his age-36 season. If he has a major league job in 2018, it will likely be for a rebuilding team hoping he returns to form so they can use him as a trade chip. If nothing else, he could serve as a mentor for their younger players.
Blanton had a nightmare season in 2017, and if there is any free agent that you can definitively say will not return in 2018, it is him.