It was reported last month that the condition of Grant Balfour’s right shoulder was the reason behind the Orioles backing out of a two-year, $15 million contract, but it turns out that they had other health concerns in mind.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the “red flags” that came up were actually about Balfour’s wrist and knee. Rays team doctor Koco Eaton didn’t find anything wrong with Balfour’s shoulder after the deal with the Orioles blew up, so this at least adds some clarity to the situation.
While it’s unclear which knee was a concern to the Orioles, it’s worth noting that Balfour required right knee surgery last February. He went on to post a 2.59 ERA and 72/27 K/BB ratio over 62 2/3 innings while notching 38 saves in 41 chances.
As Balfour continues to look for an opportunity elsewhere, the Orioles appear content to move forward with in-house options at closer. Tommy Hunter is considered the favorite for the role.
The Reds picked up outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera on minor league deals, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Both Williams and Herrera will receive invites to spring training and could compete for backup outfield roles behind Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler.
Williams, 26, completed a three-year track with the Yankees in 2017. He has yet to see a full season of playing time, however, and went 4-for-17 with two stolen bases during a five-game span with the club in 2017. While not a power hitter, his speed and steady contact rate produced a .263/.309/.318 batting line over 437 plate appearances in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including two home runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.
Herrera, 25, has yet to make his big league debut. After seven years in the Rockies’ system, he finally reached Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and slashed .278/.351/.394 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 363 PA. He looks most comfortable in the left field corner, but has some experience at shortstop and third base and should give the Reds a nice utility option come spring.