The Orioles reportedly reached a two-year, $15 million deal with free agent closer Grant Balfour earlier this week, but the agreement has hit a snag.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, Balfour’s deal with Baltimore is in serious jeopardy due to issues with his physical that “need to be resolved.” While the signing was supposed to be announced today, there’s now a chance that it won’t happen at all. Kubatko hears that official word one way or the other could come by tomorrow.
The nature of Balfour’s issue isn’t yet known. The 35-year-old didn’t spend any time on the disabled list this past season, but he did have knee surgery during spring training. He previously had Tommy John surgery in 2005 and surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in 2006.
John Axford and Joaquin Benoit have both signed elsewhere this week, so if the Orioles are forced to move on from Balfour, they will likely consider names like Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez. Kubatko hears that they have checked the medical records on Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan, but neither pitcher is expected to be ready for the start of the season.
UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the issue is with Balfour’s shoulder. As we mentioned above, he previously had surgery to repair his labrum and rotator cuff, but hasn’t had any problems since.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.