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Orioles have “definite interest” in free agent Grant Balfour

Dec 29, 2010, 2:36 PM EDT

Grant Balfour

There hasn’t been much speculation surrounding Grant Balfour, largely because he’s a Type A free agent and most teams aren’t keen on surrendering a first-round draft pick to sign a non-closer reliever.

In fact, Balfour declining the Rays’ arbitration offer last month was viewed by many as a surprise because of how much the draft pick attached to signing him would hurt his market value.

However, teams with a pick in the top half of the first round have their pick protected, meaning they’d only lose a second-round pick for signing Balfour. That means sub-.500 teams–or above-.500 teams that have already signed another Type A guy–are his most likely suitors, so it makes sense that the Orioles have “definite interest” in Balfour, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.

He’d be used as a late-inning setup man in Baltimore after filling that same role in Tampa Bay for the past three seasons, going 13-7 with a 2.98 ERA and 207 strikeouts in 181 innings. If the draft pick compensation is scary most teams off the Orioles could get a bargain on a shutdown reliever, but their reported heavy interest in Kevin Gregg could ultimately rule out Balfour.

  1. drunkenhooliganism - Dec 29, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Would a team that already signed a type A free agent have to give up their second rounder (or in the national’s case, their third rounder)? Would it be more likely that a team like the Phillies or Red Sox (ignoring that the sox already have 5 stud relievers and the phillies will only need about 100 total innings out of relievers this year) would be interested in him?

    • Panda Claus - Dec 29, 2010 at 2:56 PM

      I think if a team signs multiple type A’s, then they just keep giving up picks (2nd, 3rd, etc.). What I’m not sure about is how do they determine which team gets which pick.

      The O’s could be sniffing around Balfour in order to raise Kevin Gregg’s urgency in signing a contract. I doubt they’d get both guys, so each is probably the alternative to the other.

      • jjschiller - Dec 29, 2010 at 4:51 PM

        They do keep losing picks. And the higher pick goes to the team that lost the player who had the higher free agent ranking.

        If the Nationals signed Balfour, their first pick is protected, and the Phillies would receive their 2nd rounder, because Elias’s ranking system gives Jason Werth more magic-awesome-free-agent-points than Balfour.

        http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/10/official-elias-rankings.html

      • drunkenhooliganism - Dec 29, 2010 at 5:40 PM

        thanks panda and jj

  2. randomdigits - Dec 29, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    It almost never “makes sense” to give up a first or second round draft pick for bullpen help. Ask the O’s how the Baez, Bradford and Gonzo signings went. 13 losing seasons in a row, who needs draftpicks? It is probably why they didn’t offer Millwood arbitration, the whole front office is planning on taking a nap draft day between the O’s first two picks.

    • Panda Claus - Dec 29, 2010 at 9:31 PM

      The other side of that coin is that some players accept arbitration because they wouldn’t get comparable value on the open market. Millwood probably would’ve accepted arbitration and the O’s would’ve been on the hook for another year of salary in the $12M ballpark. Still you wonder why some teams were able to work out arrangements where they’d offer arb and then the players would turn it down, all with the understanding it was to get a draft pick back for the team.

      I have not heard a single rumor about any team’s interest in Millwood, although he’s got to be better than last year’s 4-16 W-L record.

      • randomdigits - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:56 AM

        No way an arbitor awards Millwood anything close to 12 million, remember pay cuts over 20% are allowed for free agents that accept arbitration. Six million is a much more reasonable number to expect him to shoot for, also the O’s have never lost an arbitration case to Boras and they have this guy…

        http://www.angeloslaw.com/hSmouse.htm

        The O’s, they might not be able to win on the ballfield, but they sure can litigate with the best of em!

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