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Orioles debating potential deal for Blanton

NEW YORK -- The Phillies have made it clear that Joe Blanton is available in a potential trade, and the Orioles -- who have shown by far the most interest in the right-hander -- are debating whether the veteran is worth taking a flier on, multiple sources told on Monday.

"He's there if they want him," a source said of Blanton's availability to the O's, who have executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette actively pursuing all available starting pitching options.

Baltimore's best option may be Blanton. The 31-year-old has been heavily scouted by the Orioles while going 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his past three starts, pitching at least six innings in 10 consecutive games.

Acquiring Blanton could help stabilize a rotation that has been woefully inconsistent. The Orioles are without their best starter, right-hander Jason Hammel, probably until September. Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz, both of whom were in the Opening Day rotation, are currently in Triple-A after prolonged struggles at the Major League level.

The asking price for Blanton is less than other available arms, and the O's -- who are telling teams that top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table -- don't have a lot of other trade chips in a market where numerous clubs are seeking starting pitching.

The Phils wouldn't simply give away Blanton, however, with one source saying the team would want a Major League-ready utility player or a prospect who could be a viable middle reliever. Duquette told on Friday that the club has received the most interest in its pitching depth, and the Orioles could certainly trade some of their bullpen arms in the Majors or Minors if they decide on Blanton.

But it's unclear how much of an upgrade Blanton would be. And would Duquette -- who has said the idea is to add for 2012 and the future -- be willing to trade for a pitcher only signed through this season?

Blanton is 8-9 with a 4.59 ERA in 20 starts. The right-hander is susceptible to the long ball, having allowed 22 homers, but he has one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in the Majors at 115-18.

Signed to a three-year extension on Jan. 21, 2010, Blanton is making $8.5 million this season, and the O's would presumably be on the hook for two months of that figure. The Cardinals and Blue Jays have also expressed interest in Blanton, according to an industry source, but the Orioles are "by far" the most interested team.

Baltimore Orioles, Joe Blanton