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Grant Balfour Rumors
4:56pm: The Orioles aren't the team that has offered Balfour a vesting option, tweets Encina.
3:40pm: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are one of three teams that has made a two-year offer to Balfour. One team's offer contains a vesting option for a third season, he adds. Connolly isn't sure which team has offered the vesting option, but he gets the sense that it's not the Orioles (Twitter links).
1:45pm: The O's prefer Balfour on a two-year deal, and one other club is still in the mix at this time, tweets Heyman.
12:56pm: Years are the main sticking point in negotiations with Balfour, tweets Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
THURSDAY, 11:54am: The Orioles are confident that they can sign Balfour, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
WEDNESDAY: The Orioles have an offer out to reliever Grant Balfour and others as they try to fill four holes in their lineup, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The O's also have an offer out to John Axford, a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Heyman also notes that Baltimore has talked to Nelson Cruz's agent, but a source tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter) that the club hasn't made an offer to him.
Heyman writes that the O's are also in on an unnamed starting pitcher. Baltimore also has to address holes at closer, left field, and at DH. Balfour is their top choice to replace Jim Johnson as a closer with Axford and Chris Perez believed to be secondary options.
The Red Sox haven't made a formal offer to shortstop Stephen Drew, a source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Per multiple sources, the Red Sox’ strategy continues to be to wait for Drew to find what his market might result in before looping back in with him. Here's more out of the AL East..
- The Orioles have a two-year offer out to Grant Balfour, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the O's have an offer out to the reliever.
- A report from Japanese outlet Sponichi (Japanese link) indicates that submariner Shunsuke Watanabe is expected to sign a minor league deal with the Red Sox. Special thanks to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker for posting the report along via Twitter.
- The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Thad Weber has been granted his release and has signed a contract with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization. The club now has 39 players on the 40-man roster.
10:06am: The O's and Balfour have exchanged parameters, according to Kubatko (Twitter link). The Orioles are still haggling Balfour, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sport. As Heyman notes, Chris Perez and Axford are alternative options.
(Note: MLBTR misinterpreted Heyman's original tweet to mean that the O's are haggling with Perez and Axford, which is not the case. Thanks to Jon for the correction.)
9:28am: The Orioles haven't made a former offer to Balfour, but that step is likely coming later today, and Baltimore is considered the favorite to land his services, per Kubatko (on Twitter).
9:11am: The Orioles are "trying to get a deal done" with free agent closer Grant Balfour, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Balfour and Baltimore are currently in talks, though no deals are in place. Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets that the O's have also met with John Axford's agents this week.
The Orioles traded Jim Johnson and his projected $10.8MM salary to the Athletics and have been said to be in the market for a more affordable closer. Balfour and Axford would both represent more affordable alternatives, though Balfour's price tag figures to be steeper than Axford's, as the latter of the two was non-tendered. The savings on Balfour may not be great in comparison to Johnson's salary, though Axford could certainly represent a significant cost-savings.
The Rockies haven't made any moves yet in Orlando, but they're expected to be active this week, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Renck passed along a few tidbits of note in a Monday piece for the Denver Post, so let's round up the highlights and check in on a few more Rockies items from other reporters….
- The Rockies have talked to practically ever hard-throwing free agent reliever, with Joaquin Benoit and Grant Balfour among the pitchers they'd most like to land. However, the price tags on both players will likely preclude serious bids from Colorado, says Renck.
- Colorado will be open-minded about moving Drew Pomeranz, particularly in a deal for another starter, Renck hears, noting within a Sulia post that the team has some interest in Wade Davis.
- Brett Anderson is another trade candidate who interests the Rockies, but the club's talks with the Athletics are "slowly fading," tweets Renck. While Anderson isn't necessarily off the table for Colorado, there's no traction for now.
- MLB.com's Thomas Harding reports that the Rockies are kicking the tires on Jason Hammel, who spent three seasons with the team from 2009 to 2011. Harding also confirms that Colorado has interest in Michael Morse, which we had heard about previously.
Considering how many teams continue to seek bullpen help, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we're following up our earlier post on reliever rumors with another round of them. Let's dive in…
- The Mets have kicked the tires on Chris Perez as a potential late-inning addition, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (Twitter link). DiComo notes that Perez could serve as ninth-inning insurance for New York if Bobby Parnell isn't healthy.
- In addition to Perez, Mitchell Boggs is receiving interest from the Mets, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Boggs was non-tendered after a subpar 2013, but is viewed as an intriguing buy-low candidate by New York, says Sherman.
- Baltimore could be another potential fit for Perez, but the Orioles are also eyeing Grant Balfour and John Axford, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
- The Mariners don't appear to be prioritizing bullpen additions at this point, according to GM Jack Zduriencik, who says that with their available money, the M's "would look at adding a legitimate closer as a lower priority" (Twitter link via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune).
- Noting that Dave Dombrowski has suggested the Tigers may take a flier on a veteran as insurance for Bruce Rondon, MLB.com's Jason Beck wonders if Octavio Dotel might be a fit to return to Detroit (Twitter link).
We haven't seen a ton of action yet from Orlando today, but plenty of smaller-scale rumors have been trickling in throughout the day, including plenty related to the bullpen market. Let's round up a few of the latest updates on some available relief pitchers….
- The Indians, who are in the market for a closer, have spoken to Grant Balfour, sources tell Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
- Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that Chris Perez is in attendance in Orlando to meet with teams in person, which Olney sees as a good move, considering how Perez's 2013 season played out.
- The Tigers sound lukewarm on the bullpen market at this point, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com (via Twitter), who says that stance could change once more closer openings are filled and free agents shift their focus to setup jobs.
- The Yankees, Nationals, and Padres have all been involved in the lefty relief market to varying degrees, according to Morosi (via Twitter).
- New York has stayed in touch with Boone Logan, tweets Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. However, Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link) hears that Logan is hoping to earn a role as a setup man, rather than simply as a LOOGY.
- The Braves have spoken with the agent of Eric O'Flaherty, but that appears to be on the backburner for now, particularly since he's drawing interest from other teams, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Mariners' search for a closer has them in the market for right-handers Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour, among others, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Mariners are known to be in the market for a ninth-inning arm this winter, and Wilson and Balfour represent two of the highest-profile names at the position.
Wilson, 32 in March, returned in late August and fired 19 2/3 innings of one-run ball between the regular season and the playoffs for the Dodgers. Wilson whiffed 21 hitters and walked only four, flashing an average fastball velocity of 93.2 mph. His strong showing likely helped to convince teams that his second Tommy John surgery is safely in the rear-view mirror. He's caught the interest of the Tigers, Rockies and a slew of other teams.
Balfour, 36 next month, saved 62 games for the 2012-13 A's en route to a 2.56 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9. The Yankees, Tigers, Rockies, Rays and Angels have all already expressed interest in the Australian hurler, who is expected to sign with a new team due to the fact that he'll be too pricey for the A's.
It's a crowded market for relievers, but each can make a case for a multiyear deal. In general, it'd seem beneficial to sign early in the offseason, as this year's free agent class is rife with closer types, led by Joe Nathan.
Free agent reliever Mark Hendrickson would like to return to the Orioles organization in 2014, but he doesn't know where he'll wind up this winter. "Obviously, I'd love to get his feedback from an organizational standpoint," Hendrickson told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. "I'm very happy with the opportunity they gave me last year. I don't know what's going to happen moving forward. I've got to be open to everything. I obviously have a connection with the Orioles. I love the organization, love where it's been going. But to determine what will happen, it's hard to say sitting here in November – what their thoughts are, how everything unfolds, what's going on." Here's more out of the AL East..
- Attorneys for Major League Baseball accused Alex Rodriguez of “a brazen attempt to circumvent the ongoing arbitration process” in a motion filed Friday to dismiss the Yankees third baseman's lawsuit against MLB and commissioner Bud Selig, write Ken Davidoff and Rich Calder of the New York Post.
- The Yankees announced yesterday that they are bringing back their entire coaching staff. That means that key figures such as pitching coach Larry Rothschild, bench coach Tony Pena, and hitting coach Kevin Long will return for another year in pinstripes.
- The Yanks will face tough competition for players on their free agent wish list this year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports. "[T]his isn’t going to be like 2008 when [GM Brian Cashman] was able to blow everyone out of the water" by committing $423 million to CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, Madden writes. The Yankees are expected to battle with the Tigers, Rangers, Red Sox and Mets for players that include Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Grant Balfour, Jhonny Peralta and Masahiro Tanaka.
- The Orioles are expected to hire Braves special assistant Dom Chiti as their bullpen coach, industry sources tell Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Grant Balfour is expected to sign with a new team as a free agent this offseason after three excellent years with the A's — two of which came as the team's closer. According to the latest from Susan Slusser at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Yankees, Tigers, Rockies, Rays and Angels have all expressed interest in the hard-throwing Aussie.
Balfour, 36 in December, saved 62 games for the A's over the past two seasons as their primary ninth-inning option and has a sparkling 2.47 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 254 2/3 innings dating back to 2010. It's a buyer's market for closers this offseason, with Balfour, Joe Nathan, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Chris Perez, Jose Veras, Edward Mujica and Kevin Gregg among the free agents who saved at least 20 games this past season. Brian Wilson, who returned as a dominant setup man, figures to garner interest for ninth inning jobs as well.
Interest between the Tigers and Balfour will turn a few heads due to the fact that Balfour's signature shouting on the mound didn't sit well with Victor Martinez in the ALDS, leading to a benches-clearing confrontation. Still the Tigers figure to add at least one high-profile arm this winter after opening last season with no set closer and experiencing ugly results from a carousel of relievers until Benoit solidified the job.
The Athletics have announced that they will not extend qualifying offers to free agents Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour. Neither player will require a new team to sacrifice a draft pick this winter. The move isn't surprising, given the $14.1MM value of a qualifying offer.
Colon would've been more likely to earn a qualifying offer than Balfour. The 40-year-old enjoyed a dominant season in which he pitched to a 2.65 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 190 1/3 innings for the A's. Colon earned a $3MM base salary and totaled another $2.4MM via incentives for games started and innings pitched, so the $14.1MM value would've been a substantial increase over his 2013 salary. Still, he projects to earn a healthy increase from that $5.4MM total on the open market. Colon and the A's have expressed mutual interest, and Colon feels that he can pitch for another three seasons.
Balfour, 36 in December, saved 38 games for the A's in 2013 en route to a sparkling 2.59 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9, earning his first All-Star berth in the process. I pegged his open-market value at $18MM over two years in my free agent profile of Balfour, though that should come with the caveat that there are more closers than jobs availble this winter. If he's left standing in January, Balfour won't be able to land that type of cash, so it would behoove him and agent Keith Miller of ACES to find a deal early on in the free agent process.