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.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is slated to remain with the club through the end of the 2018 season, general manager Ross Atkins told reporters on Friday. The news follows a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who cast some doubt on the veteran skipper’s future with the team several weeks ago when he said the Jays “seem destined to move on from John Gibbons.”
While it appears Gibbons’ job is safe for the next six weeks, that’s not saying much — especially as the club currently sits 30.5 games back of the division lead and will prepare to continue restructuring a sub-.500 roster come fall. As recently as last week, he hinted that he wasn’t feeling particularly eager to oversee a full rebuild. Per Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun:
Truthfully, a full breakdown, you know I have to admit I don’t know if I’m interested in that,” Gibbons said prior to Friday’s 7-0 blowout loss to the Tampa Rays. “But we’ll see. I’m still here. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
Over 11 cumulative seasons from 2004-2008 and 2013-2018, the 56-year-old manager has guided the team to a winning record just five times, most recently when they earned back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016. He still has another year remaining on his contract, which was recently lengthened to include the 2018 and 2019 seasons and includes an option for 2020 as well.
Atkins also revealed that the club is prepared to reevaluate Gibbons’ role during the offseason, though it’s not yet clear whether they intend to keep him on for the next two years as originally planned, reassign him to another role within the organization, or terminate his agreement with the team altogether.