As the Baltimore Orioles and Grant Balfour move on from their dissolved agreement this off-season, each stands to lose something. The Orioles might be losing a certain measure of credibility with future free agents thanks to the odd circumstances in which they backed out of this deal. As for Balfour, well, he might not be able to find another match for a team that wants to him to close games.
That would be the problem if he joined the New York Yankees, who reportedly have interest in Balfour. Kevin Kernan of the New York Post had the report this morning:
According to industry sources, the Yankees have shown some interest in closer Grant Balfour, whose two-year deal with the Orioles disintegrated. Balfour has converted 62 of 67 save opportunities the last two years.
That would give him a prominent role in the back of the bullpen for a contender, and as Craig Calcaterra of HardBall Talk points out, he would get to see a lot of Baltimore by pitching in their division. But he probably would not get the closer’s job, as the Yankees have seemingly been grooming David Robertson for that role. As Kernan notes:
The Yankees want to give David Robertson the shot to earn the closer’s role and Robertson told The Post on Saturday he is fully prepared to follow Mariano Rivera in the role. The Yankees bullpen has lost much, though, since last season and by adding Balfour they would have an experienced closer who lives for competition. Robertson also said if the team wants him to be an eighth-inning pitcher he will do that again.
That’s still not an ideal situation for Balfour, who would go from a place where he was unquestionably the closer to a place where he has to beat out a guy with nasty stuff for the role. This potential outcome for Balfour is just another reason that the ugliness of this situation won’t go away anytime soon.