Former Baltimore TV/radio personality Jen Royle tweeted out a few things about the goings on between Grant Balfour (and agent) and the Baltimore Orioles. (This tweet pretty much summarizes everything.) First off as I said last week, all of these types of things need to be taken with a grain of salt until we see the Orioles signing someone. However in summation, the Orioles began by offering Balfour a two-year deal, and they had to go up to three years after some other teams allegedly got into the bidding. Now Balfour wants three years plus a vesting option, and the O’s are appearing as if they’re unwilling to go that far.
Let’s assume for the purposes of this column that this is 100% accurate. Given that, it illustrates
the murky and opaque waters of player dealings in baseball and all sports. Speaking for myself, I felt that a two-year offer was more than fair on the part of the Orioles fault. Whether or not there was truly another team in the mix is almost superfluous; Balfour’s agent was convincing enough for Dan Duquette to agree to up the ante to three years. However now we see them trying to get an added year onto the deal.
This is the quandry in which teams can often find themselves. If Balfour ends up going elsewhere there will be many fans who will blame the Orioles in the form of Dan Duquette or Peter Angelos (most likely the latter). However would it really be anyone’s fault per se? If the team has a deal in principle and suddenly the player wants to up the ante? You can see where I’m going with this I presume. On one hand, you’ll have people crying foul saying that the Orioles weren’t willing to spend the money. However what exactly are teams supposed to do, let the players dictate whatever they want in a contract?
My point here is that it’s not as cut-and-dry as the team identifying a player that they want on their roster, and going and getting him. And for the record, I can’t really blame Balfour in a sense. It’s similar to what I call the “king of the world syndrome.” If someone reached out and offered you the chance to be the king of the world, wouldn’t you take that? (I know I would!) So if someone’s willing to give Balfour (or any player) an obscene amount of money, I can’t blame the guy for taking it.
My personal opinion is that eventually Balfour will sign in Baltimore – and sooner rather than later. However this “would-be” situation demonstrates how difficult it can be to play this game of free agency for teams. The players and the agents can in essence hold most of the cards. Balfour would be a great addition to the team, and I think he would help stablize the back end of the bullpen. However he’s not priceless in a sense. That’s not to say there aren’t players out there for whom you shouldn’t simply open your checkbook. But Grant Balfour, while good, isn’t one of them.