Orioles Back Out Of Deal With Balfour Due To Medical Concerns With Right Shoulder
On Tuesday afternoon the news seemed all but official that the Baltimore Orioles and former Rays reliever Grant Balfour had reached an agreement on a contract that would pay the free agent $15 million over two seasons to be their teams closer.
On Friday afternoon Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette announced that the deal was not proceeding. telling the Baltimore Sun, “We would never say never or close the door, but we’re going to turn our attention elsewhere.”
Early rumors have that elsewhere pointed in the direction of former Rays closer Fernando Rodney.
Due to patient rights the Orioles couldn’t reveal the nature of the health concerns. Later in the afternoon it was revealed that the concerns came up after examining the Orioles doctors examined the results of an MRI on his right shoulder. The same shoulder that he he had labrum and rotator cuff surgery in 2005.
Since returning to the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007 he has only been on the disabled list twice. Once for an intercostal strain (2010) and an oblique injury in 2011 missing a grand total of 45 games. He has appeared in at least 50 games in each season from 2008-2013.
He told Susan Slusser (Twitter) that he was “baffled by the Orioles decision because he is 100% fine.” He said the MRI results look the same as they did three years ago saying, “I’m the All-Star pitcher I was last season. My shoulder is fine, everything is fine. I’m ready to come out there in the ninth inning, do what I do.“
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter) reports that Balfour will discuss with the players union whether or not to file a grievance against the Orioles.
Ken Rosenthal reports (link) that Rays team physician Dr. Koco Eaton examined Balfour today and said that it should have been a “no brainer” for the Orioles to complete the contract. He was emphatic saying, “I would say with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that his shoulder would not be a problem going forward any more than it was a problem over the past three years,” Eaton said. “And there was no problem over the past three years.”
Additionally, Rosenthal reports that Red team physician Timothy Kremcheck who performed elbow and shoulder surgery in 2005 said “For a guy in his 30s who has pitched six or seven years since his rotator-cuff repair, his MRI on his shoulder looks remarkably good.”
Balfour’s agent Seth Levinson released a statement on the issue (Jerry Crasnick Twitter) stating, “The only reasonable conclusion is that Grant is healthy and the Orioles at the last moment changed their minds.”