Orioles showing interest in signing Balfour
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As of Tuesday afternoon, there was no official offer from the Orioles to free agent Grant Balfour, but that's expected to change, as Baltimore remains interested in the fiery closer and is trying to get a deal done, according to multiple sources.
Despite several reports that a Balfour deal had been reached, manager Buck Showalter confirmed that there hasn't been an offer extended, and he called any claims that the O's are closer with Balfour than other free-agent closers "erroneous." The Orioles have interest in both John Axford and Chris Perez, and they remain interested in adding to their rotation, with continued interest in local product Gavin Floyd, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and would be an interesting low-risk one-year proposition.
But all the early buzz at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday was about Balfour, who will be 36 at the end of the month and 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 Orioles, in need of a closer after trading Jim Johnson earlier this month because they were unwilling to pay him more than $10 million, would have to negotiate a multiyear contract with Balfour, who is said to be seeking a three- or four-year deal. It's unclear how comfortable the O's feel about anything more than two years, but they were still considered the favorite on Tuesday to land his services, and Balfour is the best closer on the free-agent market.
The Australia 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 2001 and owns a career 28-17 record with a 3.27 ERA in 463 games over 473 innings.
"[We're] closer than the day we got here," Showalter said of filling the team's ninth-inning need, "but I'm looking at the 37 we got on the roster here and trying to figure out from within. ... Certainly we've talked about players [externally], we've talked about the same players you all are talking about. I will say we are no closer on one than we are the other. I don't think any offers have been made, that I've been privy to."
The Orioles, who spent a good chunk of Tuesday morning preparing for the Rule 5 Draft, also have interest in the Marlins' Logan Morrison, who is one of "five or six" outfielders the club is considering right now.