Balfour Isn’t Signed by the Orioles, After All

  • Ralph Thompson Jr

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On Thursday, sources reported Oakland closer Grant Balfour had agreed to terms with Baltimore. On Thursday evening, rumors circulated that there may be a snag in finalizing the deal. On Friday, Charlie Wilmouth of MLB Trade Rumors posted that the Orioles expressed concern about a) Balfour’s health and b) the length of the deal. Wilmouth stated “the Orioles would not be comfortable signing Balfour for longer than one year plus an option”.

In 2013, Tommy Hunter saved 4 games in 6 opportunities for the Orioles. Darren O’Day saved 2 in 6 chances. No one else on the current roster had a save for the team in ’13. For manager Buck Showalter and the front office, does the team go with Hunter? Does the team look at free agent closers like Andrew Bailey, Kevin Gregg, Fernando Rodney or Chris Perez?

Here’s an idea: Baltimore executive vice-president for baseball operations Dan Duquette should talk with Washington GM Mike Rizzo. With Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano in the Nationals’ bullpen, Rizzo might be convinced to part with one of the three for the right price. Each of those three has some experience closing games at the big league level. Perhaps the Orioles have a young infielder or left-handed pitcher in their system that would be an attractive return in a trade.

When healthy, Balfour is quite good in the late-inning role. With conventional wisdom suggesting that closers are a perishable asset, it’s understandable that Baltimore wants to manage risk by getting a solid closer while not over-committing to a pitcher with an injury history. Balfour will end up with a team, but he may have to accept a deal similar to Baltimore’s plan of one year plus an option.

Friday night, MLB Trade Rumors reported that Balfour is considering filing a grievance against the Orioles’ organization, asserting he is healthy and that false information concerning his health hindered completion of the deal. This story could get messy.


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