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Signed RHP Joe Blanton to a two-year deal worth $15 million with an option for a third year. [12/5]

Barring the possibility that Jerry Dipoto is just creating a massive smokescreen, Zack Greinke is not returning to the Angels. In lieu of re-signing Greinke, Dipoto has struck twice to shore up the back-end of his rotation. First Tommy Hanson, now Blanton. The story on Blanton remains the same since Sam Miller wrote in July about his “good ratio, bad ERA” issues. The discrepancy has been there throughout his time in the majors—his career run average is about 0.15 runs higher than his career FIP—and probably won’t disappear anytime soon. Still, Blanton’s durability is a selling point, and the move to a pitchers’ park should help—even if it didn’t last season. Blanton isn’t a true Greinke replacement; he should outperform the Matt Palmers of the world, however.

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Signed OF-L Nate Schierholtz to a one-year deal worth $2.25 million with an additional $500 thousand available in incentives. [12/5]

Schierholtz finds a new home days after being non-tendered by the Phillies. I wrote at the time of the non-tender: “Look for an opportunistic team with a lot of right-handed outfielders to snatch Schierholtz and use him in a platoon role. Over the past two seasons, the former second-round pick has proven to be a solid all-around hitter against right-handed pitching. He’ll give you some average, some walks, and some power.”

The Cubs are that optimistic team. Where Schierholtz plays depends on what Jed Hoyer does over the rest of the offseason. Alfonso Soriano’s name is a fixture in the rumor mill, and it doesn’t seem unrealistic for the Cubs to hear offers for David DeJesus, either. The safe projection for now would have Schierholtz in right field on days Chicago faces a righty. On other days, you’ll probably see someone like Dave Sappelt or an outfielder to be added at a later date.

By the way, an understated part of Schierholtz’s value is his service time. Cots Contracts has him down for 4.078—or four years and 78 days. That means the Cubs could control his rights through the next two seasons before he would become a big-league free agent—unless they chose to release or non-tender him before then, of course. That means you should not be surprised if Schierholtz is involved in a trade in the interim.  

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Signed LHP Jeff Francis to a one-year deal. [12/5]

The United States Code of Federal Regulations requires Francis to allow more runs than his component measures portent. By allowing 5.6 runs per nine innings despite a 4.31 FIP, Francis was doing his part as a law-abiding citizen. The Canadian southpaw returned to the Mile High City last year after opting out of a minor-league deal with the Reds. He led the Rockies in innings pitched, even though he did not join the club until June.  Francis’ arsenal—mid-80s fastballs, high-60s curves, and high-70s changeups—must be working on all fronts for him to succeed. His upside is limited to a back-of-the-rotation starter, but the Rockies seem to value his qualitative attributes as well.