Grant Balfour could still be the Orioles’ closer next season. He could close for someone else, or maybe teams will be so wary of him that he’s now considered damaged.
Balfour’s physical with the Orioles had some issues. Balfour had a shoulder injury that kept him out of the major leagues in 2005 and 2006.
The Orioles could try to renegotiate Balfour’s contract. It was for two years and $15 million with $500k deferred each year. He could go elsewhere. Before he agreed to terms with the Orioles, he reportedly had a three-year offer elsewhere, but this issue might cause other teams to back away.
It puts the Orioles in a most sticky situation. With the available closer market thin, the price for Chris Perez or Fernando Rodney, the best left, might well be higher than Balfour’s price.
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They could stay with Balfour with a lesser deal or sign a closer like Andrew Bailey or Joel Hanrahan, who both won’t be ready for opening day because of their own injury issues, and try to piece things together.
The Orioles are known for stringent physical exams. Aaron Sele agreed to a four-year, $29 million contract in 2000, but because his exam revealed some issues, he signed a two-year deal worth about half that much with Seattle.
Sele won 32 games during that contract.
Friday was going to be a happy day for the Orioles. They were going to have a press conference with Balfour with his new manager Buck Showalter in tow. Now, both Balfour’s immediate future and the identity of the Orioles’ closer for next year are both huge unknowns.