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 Nationals have acquired left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski and cash considerations from the A’s in exchange for minor league infielder Max Schrock.
Schrock is a 21-year-old second baseman who has been pretty darn impressive in A-ball this year, but the Nats can be excused for giving up promise in 2018 or whatever for some bullpen help come playoff time. Rzepczynski walks a few too many guys for my taste but he strikes ’em out at a pretty decent rate for a LOOGY and the Nats could use another southpaw reliever apart from Oliver Perez. This is especially true given how many tough lefty hitters they may face in the playoffs.
On the basic merits, sure, Rzepczynski for Schrock may look pretty dang good for the A’s in a few years. But this October the A’s will be watching on TV from home while the Nats will be trying to win it all, making the trade pretty darn understandable from their point of view.
Meanwhile, in Tulsa, Zach Welz of the visiting Arkansas Travelers made a spectacular catch. It was the catch Torii Hunter tried to make on that famous David Ortiz homer in the playoffs a few years back except Welz made it.
Watch as he topples over the wall to come up with the would-be dinger off the bat of Tulsa Drillers first baseman Cody Bellinger: