LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Orioles are several options for closer. Here are the ABC’s.
A) John Axford
--Buck Showalter doesn’t know a lot about John Axford. He’s never pitched against the Orioles.
--Axford’s agent from the Beverly Hills Sports Council, has reportedly met with the Orioles.
--In 2011, Axford, who’s now 30, led the National League with 46 saves. He had 35 the next year, and none since.
--The St. Louis Cardinals nontendered him last week. Axford was traded from Milwaukee in late August, and pitched well for the Cardinals, but they’re stocked with younger, more affordable arms.
B) Grant Balfour
--Even though Grant Balfour will turn 36 later this month, he’s not as well-worn as some others.
--Balfour has been in 463 major league games, more than three quarters after he turned 30.
--Fernando Rodney and Joaquin Benoit, who are both the same age, have been in many more games than Balfour. Rodney has been in exactly 100 more and Benoit 78.
--Sixty-two of Balfour’s lifetime 72 saves have come in the last two years.
C) Chris Perez
--Buck Showalter mentioned Perez’s name in a hallway conversation with reporters. At 28, he’s more likely to attract a longer offer than some of the others mentioned, but Perez has 123 saves in the last four years.
--Perez has six saves in 11 games against the Orioles and a 2.25 ERA in four games at Oriole Park.
--We’ll see if the Orioles go with A, B, C—or D—Tommy Hunter—or someone else.