After much delay and hand-wringing, the Orioles made their first major acquisition of the offseason by signing free agent closer Grant Balfour to a 2 year, $15 million dollar deal. Opinion seems to be solidly in the Orioles' favor on this one...
Looks like the Orioles turn the $10.8M they would have paid Johnson into Balfour, Webb, & Weeks. Well played
Looks like the Orioles turn the $10.8M they would have paid Johnson into Balfour, Webb, & Weeks. Well played— jasoncollette (@jasoncollette) December 17, 2013
It's not often I think free agent closers are good values, but 2/$14M for Grant Balfour seems like a bargain.
It's not often I think free agent closers are good values, but 2/$14M for Grant Balfour seems like a bargain.— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) December 17, 2013
Cameron expanded on this idea at Fangraphs: "The closer premium seems to be shrinking. And in Balfour's case, this results in a pretty fair deal for the Orioles, who have managed to swap out regression candidate closers while saving some money in the process..."
Aaron Gleeman, Hardball Talk: "[Jim] Johnson racked up 50-plus saves in back-to-back seasons, but if the Orioles give Balfour that many save chances he'll do that too. And probably with a lot more strikeouts and a lot less fan anxiety."
Nathan Aderhold, SB Nation: "By average annual value, Balfour's contract stands to be one of the bigger ones handed to a reliever this winter. However, it is considerably less than the $10 million per year that Joe Nathan and Brian Wilson received from their respective clubs, and seems to be right in line with the offer that Joaquin Benoit is fielding from at least two clubs."
Jay Jaffe, The Strike Zone: "In all, the Orioles are paying one of the game's top 10 relievers a top 10 salary, albeit one toward the lower end of the scale, and considerably less than they would have been paying their former closer. It's possible that the move could backfire if age catches up to Balfour or if he doesn't take to Camden Yards, but his salary is reasonable enough that he could still be moved if the latter is a problem. In all, this is a pretty decent deal for Duquette and company."
Matt Kremnitzer, Camden Depot: "...the John Axford signing looks pretty good, and maybe that's the direction the Orioles should have gone instead...but they could have done a lot worse than picking up Webb and now Balfour."
Alex Conway, Orioles Nation: "Why I liked the Johnson deal when it was made is because of acquisitions like this. Dan Duquette turned Jim Johnson and his likely $10 million salary into Grant Balfour, Ryan Webb...Jemile Weeks, and David Freitas. That's two solid relievers, a starting 2B candidate, and some minor league catching depth for the same amount of money the Orioles would have paid Jim Johnson. I cannot say whether Johnson or Balfour will perform better next year, but they are essentially on the same plane of great, but not elite, closers."