Los Angeles Angels Release Joe Blanton, Eat $8.5 Million Left on Contract

By Jose Serrano

Apr 22, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Joe Blanton (55) watches from the dugout during the game against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It was the inevitable conclusion to a signing that should have never occurred. The Los Angeles Angels released Joe Blanton on Wednesday, Angels Communications Director Eric Kay confirmed via Twitter. The team will eat the $8.5 million Blanton is due, which includes his 2014 salary and a 2015 buyout option.

After signing a two-year, $15 million contract last year, Blanton struggled throughout the 2013 season. He posted career-highs in losses (14), ERA (6.04), and WHIP (1.613). The right-hander didn’t fare much better this spring, allowing 16 earned runs in just over 20 innings.

Blanton came into Angels camp as a candidate for the team’s starting rotation but his hopes declined with each outing. Blanton allowed two runs through 2 1/3 innings in his Cactus League debut and followed with a seven-run performance against the Texas Rangers on March 7. His spring ERA ballooned to 7.08 after four starts.

Looking for a workhorse to boost his depleted pitching staff, Angels General Manager Jerry DiPoto signed Blanton in December 2012. It was a questionable move at the time, given Blanton’s 2012 statistics. He split time with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers, compiling a 4.71 ERA through 191 innings with a WAR of 2.2.

Blanton’s time in Anaheim is epitomized by an incident last July in which he attacked a Gatorade jug and alienated his teammates. After getting run in the bottom of the fifth in a game against the Seattle Mariners, he and catcher Chris Iannetta got into a heated argument about miscommunication, prompting players to restrain Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher from lunging at Blanton.

The Angels have not official commented on the release.