Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles might have hurt chances at future free agents


What did the Baltimore Orioles see that other teams didn’t?

That is the question floating as closer Grant Balfour looks elsewhere for a contract after Baltimore backed out of their deal with him due to concerns about his physical. Other teams think Balfour’s right shoulder is fine. Are Baltimore’s doctors better? More discerning? Or is this a larger problem for Baltimore?

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports writes that the Orioles might have compromised their chances with future free agents with this Balfour “fiasco.” Because, as he notes, this decision by general manager Dan Duquette is part of a larger trend for the franchise:

If this were a one-time thing, an isolated difference of medical opinions, the Orioles’ decision to run from free-agent closer Grant Balfour would be easy to dismiss.

Alas, it is not a one-time thing, but a pattern dating back 15 years. And for the Orioles, a team that already is at a crossroads, the Balfour fiasco could not have come at a worse time.

He then notes previous deals that Baltimore backed out of due to unforeseen “medical” issues, including Aaron Sele in 2000, Jeromy Burnitz in 2006, and Jair Jurrjens in 2012.

Was this move influenced by owner Peter Angelos? Perhaps, as Rosenthal also quotes Braves GM Frank Wren as saying that Angelos “plays general manager” when he “uses medical reasons to kill or change a deal if he doesn’t like it.” If that’s the case, one can imagine the stink on the franchise for free agents.

That may or may not influence the decision of this year’s remaining free agents, such as Fernando Rodney and Nelson Cruz, but moving forward it might be an issue for the Orioles. And if it is a problem it could be a major problem, because this team cannot exactly afford to get in its own way while they try to compete in the same division as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Grant Balfour