The phrase "pending a physical" never means anything, until suddenly it does. The Orioles have run into one of those situations in their contract with free agent closer Grant Balfour:
#orioles deal with Grant Balfour in serious jeopardy due to issues with physical that a source said "need to be resolved."
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 20, 2013
There was no immediate word about what the issue might be, but Roch characterized it as "very possible" that the deal falls through entirely. It could be something like what happened with the Red Sox and Mike Napoli last off-season, where a contract for three years and $39 million became something shorter and incentive-based. If the sides don't agree about the results of the physical, Balfour may not want to accept a lesser deal.
Originally, the signing was supposed to be announced officially on Thursday. Official word on the issue is supposed to come on Friday. The Orioles and Balfour had agreed to terms on a two-year, $15 million contract.
If the Orioles end up back on the market for a closer, the free agent options remaining are pretty much limited to Chris Perez and Fernando Rodney. Just when we all talked ourselves into Balfour, it seems the rug may be pulled out from under us.