The Baltimore Orioles were part of one of yesterday’s big rumors at the MLB winter meetings, as they apparently emerged as the favorite to land free agent closer Grant Balfour. I saw a lot of reaction, both good and bad on twitter and message boards. I’ve noticed that there are people out there who are going to disagree with the move and think it’s the wrong thing – simply by virtue of the fact that it’s the Orioles making the move. I totally discount those viewpoints, because a move isn’t necessarily bad because the O’s make it or good because some other team makes it. But the fact is that there are a lot of different angles to this…so what gives?
First off Jim Johnson gave some great seasons to the Orioles, and he was as dominant a closer as
anyone not named Rivera for a season-and-a-half’s worth of time. Johnson found himself both beloved and embattled at various times, but that’s the life of a closer. Many people are questioning the Orioles in the sense that they claimed they didn’t want to pay a closer $10 million, but yet the rumor is that Balfour could be making a substantial amount of money if he ends up in Baltimore. (Not $10 million, however the numbers $7 or $8 million have been thrown around.) Let’s re-phrase that point; they didn’t want to pay Johnson $10 million.
The fact is that according to the numbers, Balfour’s a better closer. Speaking for myself, I’d prefer not to pay a guy who only pitches one inning more than what’s necessary. However the fact is that Jim Johnson blew nine saves in 2013; if the Orioles win a few of those games they probably end up in the post season. Please let’s be clear; Balfour will blow a save or two in Baltimore. It’s the nature of the position. However the first ingredient needed in a save is for the team to be in a save situation. And the closer has no bearing on that fact.
Ultimately the Balfour situation is a reminder of what I said yesterday; don’t be fooled by the rumor mill! There was a time yesterday where it almost seemed like destiny that Balfour would be signed by day’s end. To this point it hasn’t happened yet. So these rumors should be taken with a grain of salt during events such as the winter meetings.
Wieters, Davis, and Boras
Dan Duquette also said yesterday that he’s not expecting to discuss contract extensions for catcher Matt Wieters or first baseman Chris Davis with their agent, Scott Boras, this week during the winter meetings. The manner in which Boras handles his clients is something that we’ve discussed ad hoc here on the Fansided Network’s official Baltimore Orioles’ site thus far in the off season. Speaking for myself, I feel that the Orioles would be incredibly foolish not to exhaust every ounce of energy behind the scenes to re-sign both of these players. Catchers like Wieters and sluggers like Davis don’t come around everyday. Does this mean that they’re “priceless?” Not in the least. However if the Orioles have to overpay a bit to ensure that these players are working their magic for the Orioles as opposed to against them for years to come, so be it.