Orioles closing in on a closer? (updated w/ Balfour)
The Orioles are ramping up efforts to get a left-handed hitter, which is one of their top priorities at the Winter Meetings, although Tuesday morning’s buzz has been all about the ninth inning.
Several media outlets, including MLB.com’s Jim Duquette, reported that the O’s are a favorite to land free agent Grant Balfour and the team remains interested in non-tenders Chris Perez and John Axford. While the latter two would represent a significant savings from Jim Johnson –who was traded to get the club off the hook for the more than $10 million he would make– Balfour’s price has been a sticking point.
As of last night, the Orioles were waiting on Balfour’s price –as high as $9 million depending on who you talk to– to come down some. It would be hard to justify letting Johnson go, just to sign a closer for the same amount. It’s likely the O’s would explore a two-year deal to lessen the money a little bit, which is something they briefly explored with Johnson.
Right now, there’s no offer on the table to Balfour but things could change quickly.
Balfour, who will be 36 at the end of the month, went 1-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 65 games for the A’s last season, pitching 62 2/3 innings and compiling 38 saves. The Australian native has 10 years of big league experience, the past three with Oakland and the four prior to that with Tampa Bay. He made his debut with Minnesota in ’01 and owns a career 28-17 record with a 3.27 ERA in 463 games, over 473 innings.