Another day has passed without the Orioles signing a closer.
Are they getting closer?
The Orioles still have a two-year offer on the table for Grant Balfour, refusing to include a guaranteed third year, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations.
I’ve heard from one source that Balfour’s agent is now seeking a vesting option for 2016 after initially holding out for a third year.
So far, the Orioles haven’t budged. However, a team source indicated that they might consider adding a vesting option to their proposal. It’s under consideration at this point.
Balfour, who turns 36 later this month, has posted ERAs of 2.28, 2.47, 2.53 and 2.59 over the last four seasons. He registered 38 saves for the Athletics this year and allowed 48 hits, walked 27 and struck out 72 in 62 2/3 innings.
Are the Orioles in danger of having the closer market dry up, especially after John Axford agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Indians? Is Balfour taking a chance that he’ll run out of teams in need of a closer?
The Orioles, Yankees and Padres haven’t settled on a ninth-innings specialist, and the Phillies are shopping Jonathan Papelbon.
The Padres reportedly are making a strong push for Joaquin Benoit.
The Orioles met with Axford’s agent at the Winter Meetings and retained interest in him before today. They will consider Chris Perez if failing to reach agreement with Balfour, but he’s clearly not among their top choices.
As always, stay tuned.