The Orioles are deep into negotiations with the Philadelphia Phillies about acquiring right-hander Joe Blanton, but the amount of money the Orioles would have to pick up could be a sticking point in reaching an agreement before Tuesday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.
They likely could acquire the 31-year-old Blanton for a mid-level minor leaguer, but the Phillies also want to shed what remains on Blanton's $8.5 million contract -- which is approximately $3 million.
And, according to an industry source, the Orioles appear hesitant to absorb that figure for a pitcher who is considered a mid-to-late-rotation innings eater. The Phillies, who surprisingly are last in the National League East despite a $170 million-plus payroll, are looking for salary relief, especially after inking lefty Cole Hamels to a $144 million contract extension Wednesday.
The Orioles, who entered Monday two games out of the American League wild-card race, are looking to upgrade their rotation. However, they are not willing to deal away top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado or, in most instances, Triple-A starters Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz, and therefore are limited in what they can acquire.
That leaves them searching for second-tier big leaguers, and Blanton, a pending free agent, is one of the more accomplished available.
He is 8-9 with a 4.59 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) for the Phillies this year and is 81-71 with a 4.35 ERA in his career with the Phillies and Oakland Athletics. Blanton has pitched well recently, posting five quality starts in his last six outings and putting up a 3.82 ERA in July after a 4.54 ERA in June and an ugly 5.94 mark in May.
A veteran of nine seasons who has appeared in 10 postseason games for the Phillies (2-0, 4.02), he would provide some stability for an inexperienced rotation. However, in his three starts in Camden Yards, he is 2-1 with a 6.27 ERA and has allowed four homers in 18 2/3 innings.
In his career against the AL East -- including the Orioles -- he is 11-15 with a 5.18 ERA in 39 starts, and has served up 33 homers in that span. The only team he has a winning record and sub-5.00 against in the division is the Toronto Blue Jays (4-2, 3.48 ERA in eight games).
The Blue Jays are one of a handful of other teams who have also expressed some interest in Blanton.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday that the Phillies were targeting infielder Jonathan Schoop in a deal with the Orioles. But it seems highly improbable that the Orioles would include the 20-year-old Schoop, who was the organization's 2011 Brooks Robinson Player of the Year, in such a swap.