Nationals interested in free agent Grant Balfour

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The Orioles scrapped a two-year, $15 million pact with free agent right-hander Grant Balfour after a pre-signing physical revealed some previously-undiscovered issues in the reliever’s wrist and knee.

But Balfour shouldn’t be out of work much longer.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the 36-year-old native of Sydney, Australia is now drawing interest from the Nationals, who could be looking to trade Drew Storen in the coming weeks.

Rafael Soriano is expected to serve as Washington’s closer in 2014 and Tyler Clippard will be the setup man. Balfour would slide into the seventh-inning role if Storen, whose price is rising in arbitration, is moved.

Balfour posted an outstanding 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 137 1/3 innings over his final two seasons (2012-2013) with the Oakland A’s. He also saved 62 games in 67 attempts.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.