Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - The Baltimore Orioles remain in the market
for a new closer after the team announced Friday that it has backed out of an
agreement with free agent Grant Balfour due to medical concerns.
Sources told the Baltimore Sun that the issue was with Balfour's throwing
shoulder. The veteran right-hander missed the entire 2006 season recovering
from surgery to repair a torn labrum, though he has appeared in at least 62
games in each of the last three years.
Balfour, who saved a career-high 38 games for the AL West champion Oakland
Athletics in 2013, had come to terms with Baltimore on a two-year contract
worth a reported $15 million which was to have been made official Friday.
"The Orioles are moving on from this situation," Orioles vice president of
baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a conference call Friday. "There was
no contract. There was an understanding pending a physical exam."
Balfour, coming off a season in which he posted a 2.59 earned run average and
struck out 72 batters in 62 2/3 innings, was slated to replace Jim Johnson,
whom the Orioles traded to Oakland earlier this month.
With Balfour now out of the mix, the Orioles could turn back to the free-agent
market to find Johnson's successor, with Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez among
those with previous closing experience that are still unsigned.
"I guess the good news is we have other options to look at as we continue to
try to improve our ballclub," said Duquette, who also did not rule out
elevating one of the team's current relievers into the closer's role.
The Sports Network