After the Philadelphia Phillies signed free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee, the industry-wide assumption was that their next move would be to trade right-hander Joe Blanton.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, however, on Tuesday said he does not intend to move Blanton before Opening Day.
"I don’t feel comfortable doing it," Amaro told FOXSports.com. "He’s going to pitch for the Phillies, probably for the entire season."
Blanton, 30, projects as the Phillies’ fifth starter, behind righty Roy Halladay, Lee, righty Roy Oswalt and lefty Cole Hamels.
The Phillies’ decision to keep Blanton, at least for the moment, might stem from the difficulty of trading him. Blanton, who went 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA in 2010, is guaranteed $8.5 million in each of the next two seasons.
One rival executive with a need for starting pitching said Tuesday there was "not a chance" his team would want Blanton — except, perhaps, if the Phillies included significant dollars in the deal.
The Phillies’ 2011 payroll currently projects to more than $160 million, but Amaro said unequivocally that the Phillies do not need to move Blanton to reduce that number.
"We do not need to trade the man," Amaro said.
The team avoided arbitration with righty Kyle Kendrick on Tuesday, signing him for $2.45 million. Kendrick went 11-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 33 appearances last season, 31 starts. The Phillies, however, might need him in the bullpen if they lose right-hander Chad Durbin in free agency.
An injury to any of the top four starters also could require the Phillies to use both Blanton and Kendrick in their rotation. Blanton has been one of the game’s most durable starters, averaging nearly 200 innings per season over the last six years.
“Why would we want to trade the guy?” Amaro said. “He gives us a whole lot of protection. I’d stack him up against the rest of the fifth starters in the league.”