Baltimore Orioles add A’s Grant Balfour after trading their closer to the A’s

  • David Whitlock

Update: Orioles back off deal after issue with physical.

Original Story published 12/17:

In a curious move, the Baltimore Orioles signed former Oakland A’s fireman Grant Balfour to fill a vacancy left by the trade of their closer, Jim Johnson, …to the Oakland A’s.  According to MASNs Ruch Kubatko, the deal will have Balfour make $7M over the next 2 years:

According to industry sources, the Orioles are nearing an agreement with free-agent closer Grant Balfour on a two-year deal.

One source says Balfour will receive $14 million over two years, plus $500,000 deferred each year.

The agreement will become official later today.

Balfour reportedly had a higher-paying offer from another club – believed to be two years with a vesting option – but clearly preferred to sign with the Orioles.

So in return for Jim Johnson a few weeks ago, the Orioles got 2B Jemile Weeks (replacing free agent loss 2B Brian Roberts to leave to the Yankees earlier today), then find a bargain version of the 2-time American League Leading Saves man in Johnson.  The Birds are shuffling around personnel and salary trying to stay competitive with the World Champion Boston Red Sox, deep-pocketed New York Yankees, and perennial playoff contender Tampa Bay Rays.  Not to mention the ever-evolving Toronto Blue Jays.

Grant Balfour will be moving to the East Coast in 2013  (Credit: USA Today Sports)

Grant Balfour will be moving to the East Coast in 2014
(Credit: USA Today Sports)

A brief Tale of the Tape on the closer the Orioles let go, and brought in.

  • Jim Johnson is 30 years old, Grant Balfour will 36 by Opening Day.
  • Johnson made $6.5M in 2013, Balfour $4.5M
  • Johnson becomes an unrestricted FA in 2015, Balfour already there
  • Johnson has 122 saves in career (101 in last 2 years), Balfour 72 (62 in last 2 years)

So the motive behind the churn for the Orioles appears to be based upon:

  1. They figure they won’t be able to retain Johnson past 2014
  2. With Balfour, they get a little price break and have a closer through 2015
  3. Balfour might be able to match Johnson’s save count with as many close games as the Orioles play
  4. They got Weeks in return for Johnson to allow payroll savings with the departure of Brian Roberts.

The Orioles have to be creative to stay competitive, this shuffling isn’t a bad idea.  They’re just going to need Balfour to not tail off in his late 30’s.

– David Whitlock

Related Articles:
Baltimore Orioles slashing payroll, look to deal closer Jim Johnson
MLB Top 20 Closers

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David Whitlock

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David (a.k.a. Longhorndave or lhd_on_sports) joined the staff late in the 2012 season and moved to Site Manager in early 2013. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (and mini-season ticket holder for 9 years) he attends 20+ games per year. A statistics freak, David still keeps score the "old fashioned way" on occasion (and has kept manual score of World Series games since 1986 and retains the sheets). He was a featured guest weekly on the Phil Naessens Show. He is also a Texas Longhorns alumnus and huge football and baseball fan of his alma mater. When he isn't watching or writing about baseball, he works as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center. He lives by the mantra "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."

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