Baltimore’s big off season signing is in trouble as former Rays pitcher and free agent closer Grant Balfour failed a team physical. A press conference to introduce Balfour to the media today has been called off and not rescheduled. The man who helped the Oakland A’s to back to back playoff appearances has shoulder problems. That puts on hold his two year $15 million dollar deal.
On December 2nd the Orioles sent All Star closer Jim Johnson who was coming off back to back 50 save season’s to Oakland in what was seen as a cost cutting move. Johnson was due $10 million dollars in 2014 and Balfour, who ironically was the A’s closer the past three years was as a free agent a cheaper option with his two year $15 million dollar price tag.
But now that deal is very much up in the air so much so that it might well be voided. What not known at this point is the extent of the injury to his right shoulder. Balfour, who turned down another team to take the Baltimore deal might, himself back out of the deal and sign somewhere else if he feels physical was not right and would like a second opinion.
The last minute monkey wrench in the deal has forced not only the cancellation of Friday’s press conference but also the Orioles’ front office to consider its next move with Balfour, whom the club initially agreed to terms with on Tuesday.
So, if the deal with Balfour goes South which is a very real possibility, according to sources — they must reset their chase for a closer in a dwindling free-agent market. The Orioles have in the past voided deals if the player can’t pass the teams physical and at this they may reduce their offer to the closer.
According to Roch Kubatko of the Mid Atlantic Sports Network, the Orioles owned regional sports network and the man who first broke this story. Baltimore may have to start their search for a closer from square one and according to Kubatko that means looking at former Rays closer Fernando Rodney and former Cleveland closer Chris Perez remain on the market if the Orioles don’t sign Balfour. The Orioles have checked the medical records of former Red Sox relievers Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey, who won’t be ready on opening day while recovering from their respective surgeries.
The Phillies are shopping Jonathan Papelbon, who’s entering the third year of his four-year, $50 million dollar contract. Duquette told reporters that he didn’t speak to them at the Winter Meetings. That said Baltimore is not likely to take on a contract the size of Papelbon, with only this coming season left on the deal.
So for now Baltimore is without a closer pending further tests on Balfour.