Joe Blanton, Nationals Finalize $4 million, 1-Year Contract

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Setup man Joe Blanton and the Nationals finalized a $4 million, one-year contract on Thursday.

The 36-year-old right-hander was a free agent after pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016, when he went 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 80 innings across 75 regular-season appearances. He was 1-0 and allowed only one hit in five scoreless innings in four games for LA during an NL Division Series victory over Washington.

Washington doesn’t have an experienced closer after Mark Melancon left as a free agent to sign with the San Francisco Giants.

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

He joins a Nationals bullpen that includes Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, Koda Glover, Oliver Perez, Sammy Solis and Trevor Gott.

Blanton’s agreement includes $1 million in performance bonuses: $250,000 each for 50 and 60 innings, and $500,000 for 70 innings — identical to the provisions in his 2016 contract.

Catcher Spencer Kieboom was designated for assignment by the Nationals to open a roster spot. The 25-year-old made his big league debut on the final day of the 2016 regular season, walking in his only plate appearance and scoring.

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