Grant Balfour Might Not Be The Orioles Closer After All
For the first time this offseason, I congratulated the Orioles for a couple successful moves. The Birds dumped Jim Johnson to Oakland, avoiding his projected $10.8 million in salary arbitration, and picked up second baseman Jemile Weeks, relief pitcher Ryan Webb and closer Grant Balfour. Three players for less than the price of JJ — well done.
I’ve got to give the Birds two thumbs up for trading Danny Valencia to KC for David Lough. Valencia is a poor fielder who can’t hit right handed pitching. They acquired a high-upside outfielder who posted a 2.7 WAR in 2013 and won’t hit free agency until 2020.
Sure, the starting pitcher is still terrible, but at least there’s something to be happy about, right?
Or so I thought.
Buck Showalter flew to Baltimore from his home in Dallas for the O’s press conference on Friday in which they planned to announce Balfour as the team’s ninth inning guy. The only problem is that he can’t seem to pass his physical. Here are the details according to MASNSports.com’s Roch Kubatko:
The results of the physical have come back to the Orioles. The failure to announce his signing isn’t due to any sort of delay.
A source said there are some issues that “need to be resolved.” Executive vice president Dan Duquette couldn’t be reached for comment, but he’s expected to address them on Friday.
Update: The issue at least partly involves Balfour’s right shoulder, according to a source. Something was revealed on the X-rays that must have raised concerns. But is there more to the story? Stay tuned.
This is why we can’t have nice things, Orioles fans.
Last season, we saw a similar story unfold between the Boston Red Sox and Mike Napoli. The two-sides agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract in December of 2012, but after his physical, Napoli had to settle for a one-year, $5 million contract with performance bonuses after the new year.
We all know how that worked out for Nap and the Sox.
The way I see it, there are three possible outcomes for this story:
1. Balfour fails his physical, voids his agreement with the team and O’s go elsewhere to find a closer. Though at this point the options are either Fernando Rodney, Chris Perez or someone currently on the roster.
2. The two-sides agree to a more club friendly deal much like Napoli did.
3. The health issue gets “resolved” and the two sides move forward as planned.
I’m most hopeful for number three. This offseason just hasn’t been fun.