Following Friday's news that the contract between free agent closer Grant Balfour and the Orioles had fallen through due to unspecified issues uncovered in his physical, Balfour does not appear to be taking the situation laying down:
Grant Balfour called me back to say he called Dan Duquette to tell him the #Orioles were making a mistake. #Athletics— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 21, 2013
Slusser is the Athletics beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and has covered the Athletics for 15 seasons.
There were other gems relayed, including that Balfour apparently told Duquette that the Orioles had just cost themselves their best chance at winning. It's certainly good for a professional athlete to be confident in himself; no one wants their closer or any other player to say something like, "Yeah, you know, I'm the seventh-best at this in the league" - even if that is what is true. Balfour would have helped the Orioles win, probably, but not enough to be worth taking what they felt was a risk at the cost the deal had.
Also, the idea that what the Orioles have standing between them and success is needing a closer is ridiculous, but who's counting?
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to two doctors on Friday, including the Rays team doctor and the doctor who performed surgery on Balfour's shoulder in 2005, and both were surprised at the Orioles rejection of Balfour based on the physical. Rays team doctor Koco Eaton, who performed an MRI on Balfour's shoulder Friday, said that it looked the same as three years ago.
Whether the Orioles offered any other contract to Balfour after backing away from the original two-year, $15 million deal that had been agreed upon is not clear. Based on Balfour's comments, it seems unlikely he would have taken any lesser offer, in any case.
In a statement, Balfour's agent, Seth Levinson, said, "The only reasonable conclusion is that Grant is healthy and the Orioles at the last moment changed their minds."
On the notion of whether the O's got cold feet with the contract:
Won't come as surprise, but hearing O's furious at notion that they "backed out" of deal. Don't have someone else lined up.— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 21, 2013
When it comes to information dissemination, it must be nice to own 85% of a television network that employs multiple reporters. Which doesn't necessarily mean that Roch is wrong, of course. The situation is funny on the surface.
It doesn't make much sense for the Orioles to just renege on what was essentially a done deal for no good reason. Whether other teams would have made the decision is not important. They're not the ones who have to pay Balfour what the O's agreed upon. Past instances of their failing players after a physical, while largely panned even over a decade later, have been vindicated based on the players generally breaking down when the Orioles thought they would break down.
In terms of actually signing players, this has been a quiet off-season, but we can't say that it's been uneventful any longer.