Orioles’ Deal With Grant Balfour In Jeopardy

7:53pm: Balfour's issue concerns his right shoulder, Connolly reports (Twitter link).  The righty underwent surgery to correct a torn rotator cuff in that shoulder in 2005, Connolly notes, though Balfour hasn't had any subsequent problems.  "More I hear, more it looks like Balfour deal could collapse," Connolly tweets, adding that the Orioles have traditionally been very cautious of signing players (particularly pitchers) with medical concerns.  

7:18pm: A source tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links) that the Balfour deal "may be in jeopardy," though "serious jeopardy" is probably too strong.  The Orioles would look at other closer options on the open market if Balfour's physical issue is a deal-breaker.

THURSDAY, 6:16pm: The Orioles/Balfour deal is "in serious jeopardy" and could fall apart altogether, MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko reports.  Balfour's physical revealed issues that "need to be resolved," according to a source.  More word about this setback could come on Friday.

TUESDAY: The Orioles have agreed to a two-year, $15MM deal with Grant Balfour, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter).  He'll have $500K deferred in each season.  The deal is still pending a physical.


Recent reports indicated that three teams had two-year offers on the table to Balfour, with the Orioles being the most aggressive team and the favorite to land him. Balfour reportedly wanted to pitch for the O's, but was holding out for a three-year deal. There was talk of adding a vesting option to the deal as a compromise, but it appears that a two-year pact was enough to get the job done.

Balfour, who celebrates his 36th birthday on December 30th, turned in a 2.59 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 on his way to a first career All-Star selection.  Balfour doesn't have the near-95-mph fastball average that he boasted in his best season with the Rays in 2008, but his 2013 average of 93.4 mph was still solid.  The right-hander hasn't had an ERA higher than 2.59 in his last four seasons.

Some may point to Balfour's significant home/road split over the last three seasons as a big reason for his recent success.  Oakland's O.co Colliseum is one of the game's most pitcher-friendly environments, and Balfour has a 1.58 ERA in 113 2/3 innings there, compared to a more pedestrian 3.78 ERA in 85 2/3 innings on the road.

The Aussie missed two full seasons thanks to Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery following a promising debut with the Twins in his age 25-26 seasons. He rediscovered himself in Tampa Bay before heading to the A's in 2011. Balfour was handed the ninth inning in his second season with Oakland, and has racked up 62 saves from 2012-13 for the back-to-back AL West champions.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) first reported that the two sides were nearing agreement.  Additional details courtesy of CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (on Twitter).  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

99 Responses to Orioles’ Deal With Grant Balfour In Jeopardy Leave a Reply

  1. Joshua Menezes 2 years ago

    A’s and O’s trade closers

    • Chioakcisco 2 years ago

      With Jemile Weeks as essentially the PTBNL.

    • Tim 2 years ago

      GB is about $3.8M cheaper per year than JJ

    • Joe Valenti 2 years ago

      Makes you question the trade from the A’s perspective. I think these two closers are about the same value, but the A’s had to trade Weeks and Frietas, essentially to pay about $3M more this year for the same value

  2. Brandon Mason 2 years ago

    Good signing by The Orioles

  3. Ed 2 years ago

    That’s a great deal for O’s

  4. The_Porcupine 2 years ago

    About time. I like Balfour, but the O’s were right to hold firm on 2 years. He’s still cheaper than Johnson. Now I’d like to see them add 1-2 more arms to the bullpen to really strengthen it further. Of course I’d rather see a legit leadoff hitter and a #2 starter, but they seem to be too expensive for the O’s taste.

    • PSUOrioles 2 years ago

      The O’s have to be done adding to the bullpen and I think it’s going to be beastly this year… they traded for Brach from SD, signed Webb from MIA and now signed Balfour… I could actually see them trade some of the BP guys, i.e. Matusz or Patton.

  5. JohnnyHamer 2 years ago


  6. drwheelock 2 years ago

    I was hoping Seattle would jump in on this one. I’m sure they were one of the other 2 offers though. Very nice signing for the O’s though!!!

  7. ba9oriole 2 years ago

    The Orioles basically traded Jim Johnson and got Grant Balfour, Jemile Weeks, David Freitas, and $3+ million. Not bad.

  8. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

    Well the O’s saved a whooping 3 Mil AAV! Not a bad deal pretty much traded Johnson for Balfour and Weeks.

  9. OaklandFan22 2 years ago

    pretty solid signing, I thought he was going to cost them more.

    • letsgogiants 2 years ago

      Honestly at this point, the closer market has died down. Most teams have a closer by now, and the ones who still need one aren’t going to bid against themselves, instead opting to use their money in other areas of improvement.

  10. RIYankeeGuy 2 years ago

    Awful job Yankees! Had your chance to keep D Rob comfortable as an 8th inning/tough jam specialist with a bona-fide closer.

    As for the O’s fans, Balfour was a great get at less than 10 AAV. I just wish your front office would have given Brian Roberts a cushy scouting gig so Cashman couldn’t waste time and money on another Hafner/Youk-like zero chance of success injury project.

    • MB923 2 years ago

      There’s still Veras and Benoit.

      • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

        Don’t forget Rodney, his 9th inning walks and ridiculous celebrations can’t be overlooked.

        • MB923 2 years ago

          Pass. I have no clue how he had the 2012 season that he did. His ERA was 4.24 or worse for 6 consecutive seasons and suddenly he has an ERA of 0.60 in 74 innings? Unless it was PED’s of some kind, I don’t get how he did it.

          • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

            I have no clue, TB magic or something… He was awful to watch when he was closing for LAA. .220 BABIP and an 89% LOB rate really helped him out in 2012. He came back to earth in 2013.

          • GriffeyandSizemore 2 years ago

            That was the one year he could throw strikes. he has a terrific change up he was throwing in any count and fooling everyone. But I agree pass on Rodney. I pass on Veras too I remember him all too well. Balfour is a good signing at 7m but since he’s been an A his road numbers are dramatically different to his home stats. There is a chance that can be a problem in Camden.

      • Spencer James 2 years ago

        If memory serves me correct, Veras already had a stint in NY from 2006-2009 and was not all that effective. I’d rather take the risk DRob and trade for an 8th inning guy.

      • PittsburghPirates0022 2 years ago

        Veras- Cubs
        Benoit- Padres

        • MB923 2 years ago

          Obviously neither had been signed yet when I posted that

    • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

      Cashman wasted a lot of money on Brian Roberts…. for the same price he could have gotten 11 games from A-rod or 14 games from Cano.

      • RIYankeeGuy 2 years ago

        Which is ironically the range of healthy games for Roberts this season.

        • Spencer James 2 years ago

          25 games combined for Roberts is too generous. Vegas has the over/under starting at 20.

    • John Lazzaro 2 years ago

      Even if it wasn’t Phillips Idk why you would go straight to another Nick Johnson clone who never stays on the field enough.Only 77 games last year not sure how that didn’t scare the yankees off just bizarre to me

  11. Marinersforever71 2 years ago

    Who you think the Orioles ought to trade to the Seattle Mariners after Balfour’s signing? Dustin Ackley, either Tyler Pike or Anthony Fernandez, Brandon Maurer or Carson Smith, Leon Landry or Julio Morban, and a player to be named going to the Mariners for Steve Clevenger (backup to Zunino) or Nolan Reimold, Bud Norris or Brian Matusz (long/middle relief) would make sense for both teams filling the positions. Let me know which players should be packaged to those teams.

    • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

      Please just change your name to 3-team trade generator.

    • Bleed_Orange 2 years ago

      This is up there with one of the worst trade proposals I have seen on MLBTR… and I have seen some bad ones. The O’s trade a legitimate MLB starting Catcher, an All Star starting pitcher (when they need pitching) and their setup man who has been lights out for the last 2 years For Nick Franklin, Tyler Pike and 2 Players to be named! Com’on man

  12. LordOfTheSwings 2 years ago

    I think this just makes the A’s look a little bad. In my opinion, Balfour for 2 years at 15m is a better deal than J. Johnson for 1 year at ~10.5m. But I guess maybe the A’s really just didn’t want to be tied down for 2 years.

    Good signing by the O’s. This deal makes Logan’s deal look even worse.

    • FS54 2 years ago

      I was thinking the same thing. That just does not seem like an A’s deal.

    • GriffeyandSizemore 2 years ago

      They feel the switch of stadiums will be a huge difference with Johnson as well. He shouldn’t give up those game blowing home runs at home.

      • DaBirds 2 years ago

        Johnson didn’t give up Home Runs. It was BB, single and then double. He was good but blew about ten to twelve games for us last year. We probably would of made the playoffs if he was consistent.

    • omar jimenez 2 years ago

      They can still trade Johnson while developing or getting a closer down the road.

    • letsgogiants 2 years ago

      I thought so initially too, but looking at Balfour’s home/road splits, age, and struggling 2nd half, I can see why Beane opted for the younger choice in Johnson, even if he is paying him more in AAV. Who also knows whether or not Balfour can keep up his velocity in the next two seasons. If the fastball velocity goes down drastically, then Balfour is going to get painted by AL East opponents.

    • Ben Childs 2 years ago

      The one thing going for Johnson is that Beane could turn around and trade him tomorrow….and I’m kinda hoping that’s the route we go. $10 mil could be a lot better utilized elsewhere on the roster, especially given the strength of our bullpen.

  13. snowbladerp14 2 years ago

    i guess ill take 4 million and weeks for free but we still arent a better team than last year and that team missed playoffs

  14. gmantacoma 2 years ago

    Good deal for O’s – I was hoping ‘Ball Four’ would come to Seattle

  15. LazerTown 2 years ago

    Meh, wouldn’t really want him outside of that ballpark, but that is a fair price for a proven closer of his history. Boone is getting $5.5M aav over 3 years, and a proven closer gets $7.5M the rockies looking worse and worse.

  16. omar jimenez 2 years ago

    This makes a ton of sense as far ass cost effective and fits a need. I would just be concerned with his perforance away from Oakland collesium. Baltimore needs starting pitching so saving money elsewhere is huge.

  17. MrSativa 2 years ago

    Great sign by the O’s. Now sign Rodney.

  18. Robert 2 years ago

    Balfour is creating distinct records

  19. Bluejays31 2 years ago

    Could get ugly in the AL east…

  20. Scooby-Don't 2 years ago

    The last thing you want to do, as a pitcher, is Grant ball four.

  21. deadgeorge 2 years ago

    Its funny…Baltimore was where he lost the closer job to Ryan Cook midway through the 2012 season…

  22. paulie_bird_brain 2 years ago

    Johnson just spent 2 years closing in the AL East and was the back-to-back AL Saves leader, so the Orioles moved him in his final year, to save some $. Trading 1 year of a 30 y.o. with a proven track record in the division, for 2 years of a 36 y.o. with Coliseum tainted numbers. Terrible decision for the O’s front office. Maybe they should trade Chris Davis, to acquire Raul Ibanez….Raul is at least 3 million cheaper.~

    • Lefty_Orioles_Fan 2 years ago

      Oh come on Paulie, lets be a bit more positive!
      I am happy and a lot of Oriole fans are happy!

      • Cereal 2 years ago

        Why because they did something? The whole thing seems to lack direction??

      • paulie_bird_brain 2 years ago

        “a lot”…not sure I see it that way. But to each their own.

  23. As great as Balfour’s fiery personality is for the fans, his ability to actually *close* was totally nerve-wracking. My guess is that his walks and long fly ball outs are going to translate to 2- or 3-run homers in Baltimore. Especially given the overall strength of the retooled Oakland bullpen, this is ultimately an absolutely worthwhile swap for the A’s (and I realize I might be in the minority of A’s fans in thinking so).

  24. Matt Talbert 2 years ago

    Balfour came cheaper so it was a good signing by Duquette, now to fix that rotation (they need an ace bad!) … lineup and pen look very solid.

    • PittsburghPirates0022 2 years ago

      Orioles and Rays should have some trade talks…

      Rays Acquire: Dylan Bundy and Brian Matusz

      Orioles Acquire: Jeremy Hellickson and PTBNL

  25. Ryan 2 years ago

    The Rage makes his way to Baltimore so it looks like Metallica will still have an Entrance Song in the AL East just not the one everybody grew accustomed to hearing

  26. WatermelonMtnScout 2 years ago

    Not sure what Orioles are doing here. Certainly closer is not their biggest issue. And they sent their old closer to the A’s in a trade and signed the A’s old closer as a FA.

    Does this make sense to you?

    • Christopher J. Mills 2 years ago

      Makes perfect sense. They essentially traded Johnson for Balfour, Weeks, a prospect and Webb (setup man acquired for amount of money they saved on Johnson). Plus Balfour is a more effectcive closer.

  27. Lefty_Orioles_Fan 2 years ago

    Oh cheese and rice almighty!
    I mean if Grant Balfour knew he had issues why did he sign the contract.
    The Orioles sweetened the deal and he signed.
    I am pretty upset here if he doesn’t wind up signing with the O’s.
    One reason being is that there are no other relievers/closers that I want!

    This is a big problem! I mean why couldn’t the Orioles find issues with Mike Gonzalez or Kevin Gregg when they signed with us a few seasons ago!


    • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

      He may not have known and even if he didn’t you can really fault him; no one goes to a job interview and highlights their faults.

  28. Oddly enough he did look a little gassed at the end of the season. He was wincing a few times in the games that I saw and no one really said anything on the broadcasts (watching on MLB Network). That really stinks though…

  29. MrSativa 2 years ago

    Wow with the money they were going to cough up. No way. Sign Rodney.

  30. Jason Champion 2 years ago

    For Balfour’s sake, I hope it is nothing too serious.

  31. DarkBob 2 years ago

    The issue was the realization by the O’s front office that they just spent money on a free agent.

    • pft2 2 years ago

      They probably looked at his hit charts and imagined how many balls would be HR in Camden Yards that would be outs in Oakland.

  32. Puig Power 2 years ago

    It appears that Oakland knew something …

    • Guest 2 years ago

      Possibly. But the A’s may have had to move on, regardless. Judging by some of Balfour’s comments over the last two years, I don’t think he ever had much interest in re-signing.

    • Seamaholic 2 years ago

      More likely just got lucky. It’s not necessarily a muscle/joint thing. Could be (I hope not) an illness, or even a PED finding. Who knows. It will work out and the O’s will keep him.

  33. Seanb1223 2 years ago

    He tore his rage muscle?

  34. Junior7188 2 years ago


  35. Justin N 2 years ago

    Is balfour homer prone? Cause yankee stadium is not a pitcher park

  36. Randy Jay Pena 2 years ago

    Should have kept Johnson.

  37. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

    Now the Billy Bean in this comes out!

  38. not_brooks 2 years ago

    Jeopardy? I’ll take “Meddling Owners” for $2000, Alex.

    Either that, or Balfour Rage is contagious.

    • Lefty_Orioles_Fan 2 years ago

      I don’t get this NB.
      When they did the physical with Wada, they saw no damage and yet what a month or two later??? I mean Brian Roberts even got thru his 4 year contract with all the issues he had and now the Yankees sign him? Especially, now that he has lost range and is a fly ball hitter, not a line drive.

      Bottom Line is I am going to be really upset and disappointed if this deal falls thru!

  39. OaklandFan22 2 years ago

    This is surprising considering he didn’t have much injury history with the A’s, and was always pretty reliable.

    • not_brooks 2 years ago

      Well, he is a 36-year-old with elbow and shoulder surgeries in his medical file.

  40. pft2 2 years ago

    Wonder what kind of physical issue he has that they expect could be resolved. Perhaps an offseason injury such as a sprained ankle or fracture? Lingering tendonitis, muscle strain, etc ?

    • LocustFarm 2 years ago

      It’s being reported that it’s an issue with his shoulder that they noticed after x-rays, which raised the concerns for them.

  41. PittsburghPirates0022 2 years ago

    Orioles should trade for Price from Tampa

    • Victoria Roberts 2 years ago

      That’s the second time you’ve mentioned this. The AL East is not exactly famous for inter-divisional trades. You don’t make your competition better. And there’s the part where the Orioles can’t afford to pay Price once he’s a free agent. So you’re trading stud prospects to a direct competitor for a rental. Still make sense?

  42. kevmill21 2 years ago

    Some insider info, (though I don’t know the exact medical condition) this deal is dead.

  43. Bill 2 years ago

    Paging Dr.Angelos! “Okay Dan good job getting rid of that over- priced closer!”
    “You did what,signed another one for $15 million?””Let me see his medicals, and start scanning the waiver wires just in case”

  44. drwheelock 2 years ago

    This is sounding like what happened to Napoli last offseason. Agree with BoSox on a 3yr $39M deal, then BoSox finds a way to question his health just to get a stellar deal on a 1yr $5M contract for Napoli. Napoli proved great last year, and upped with BoSox on a multi-year this year.

    I always viewed the BoSox publicity as an internal way to get Napoli cheap for 1 year. I am kind of shocked he resigned with BoSox after last offseason. But hey a WS Ring goes along ways I guess.

  45. crastu 2 years ago

    i wouldn’t blame the O’s for not signing him based on injury concerns, especially after the Wada signing. They should re-structure the contract like the Pirates did with Liriano.

  46. Christopher A. Otto 2 years ago

    Benoit is still out there, too. ….

  47. macdice 2 years ago

    I remember when Aaron Sele failed a physical with the Orioles and then went onto become an All-Star with the Mainers.

  48. Guest 2 years ago

    Ha! Can’t believe I’ve not noticed that before!

  49. DENNIS 2 years ago

    and….Rusty Kuntz….and Razor Shines….

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