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Grant Balfour may file a grievance over Orioles’ decision to back out of contract

Dec 20, 2013, 6:35 PM EDT

Grant Balfour Reuters

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that free agent reliever Grant Balfour is considering filing a grievance over the Orioles’ recent decision to back out of a two-year, $15 million contract. Balfour contends he is as healthy as ever, and multiple doctors agree with him.

It is very hard to see what the Orioles are seeing, especially when no one else is seeing it. Remember that scene in Mallrats where the guy is staring at the painting looking for the hidden drawing, and everybody else walks by and sees it immediately? That’s the Orioles.

Balfour has pitched in at least 50 games per season dating back to 2008, his first full, healthy season after undergoing labrum and rotator cuff surgery in September 2005. He has compiled a 2.74 ERA in 380.1 relief innings with a 27 percent strikeout rate and nine percent walk rate. The O’s were getting an elite closer at a market rate — the Padres are paying Joaquin Benoit just about what the Orioles would have paid Balfour — so they must have seen something, real or not, that they didn’t like.

Balfour’s agent, Seth Levinson of ACES, responded to the situation in a press release. Via Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun:

“Grant is completely healthy and that was told to us today by Dr. Koco Eaton, a well-respected club physician (with the Tampa Bay Rays). Dr. Eaton’s opinion is based upon the fact that the MRI which was taken today is the same as the MRI which was taken in 2011 as a condition of the three-year contract that Grant signed with the A’s. Dr. Tim Kremchek (Cincinnati Reds), another well-respected club physician, reviewed the Orioles’ medical report and advised that he is remarkably impressed that there has been little change in Grant’s arm for almost 10 years. Now factor into the equation that Grant was a 2013 All-Star, pitched 65 games and another 3 scoreless innings in the postseason with a 94-95 mph fastball. The only reasonable conclusion is that Grant is healthy and the Orioles at the last moment changed their minds.”

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Orioles have turned their attention to Fernando Rodney in the meantime.

  1. hoopmatch - Dec 20, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    The probably decided to have another look at a pitcher named Strikethree.

    • missthemexpos - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      As long as they don’t bring in a pitcher named Ball Four instead of Balfour.

    • DJ MC - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:11 PM

      I think David Riske is available.

      • km9000 - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:05 PM

        Josh Outman is not.

  2. flamethrower101 - Dec 20, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    I wonder how the O’s would be punished if Balfour were to win. Peter Gammons on Twitter suggests a $15MM fine. I suggest a loss of their 1st round draft pick to whichever team eventually signs up, just like the new draft comp. system. It would only be fair, especially now that most teams might have a second thought about going after him.

  3. randomdigits - Dec 20, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    The O’s have a history of being risk adverse and for being right when players fail their physicals. (Jurrjens and Sele for example).

    • kruegere - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      Angelos has a history of using medicals as a reason to back out of contracts his GM makes.

      • randomdigits - Dec 20, 2013 at 8:18 PM

        Give an example. Sele for instance failed the O’s physical and they tried to go from a four year deal to a two year deal. He declined then got hurt…three seasons after.

        They are very risk adverse but they are not actually wrong when they do this.

    • hittfamily - Dec 20, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      And Albert Belle.

  4. bangarrang - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    After what happened with Wada, they’re probably less likely to sign injured pitchers. Angelos probably gave Duquette hell over that.

  5. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Oh look, a schooner!

    • bosoxington - Dec 21, 2013 at 7:24 PM

      …that’s not a schooner it’s a sailboat!

  6. wheels579 - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    I don’t see the problem here. The Orioles had every right to walk away from negotiations if they had reservations about Balfour’s health. Balfour can now negotiate with any team interested in his services and they can examine his health records and have him take a physical. Mike Napoli didn’t file any grievance last year when his 3-year deal turned into a one-year deal due to his hip condition, which went public. If anything, a grievance by Balfour might discourage other teams from interest because he might pull the same thing with another team if they don’t like the looks of his health as Baltimore didn’t. Just move on.

    • flamethrower101 - Dec 20, 2013 at 8:14 PM

      There shouldn’t be a problem, but with the O’s recent history there’s going to be. This isn’t over, that’s for sure.

      As for Napoli, he has a degenerative hip condition. That’s a real red flag and the Red Sox were well in the right to pull their 3/$39M deal off the table. But obviously Napoli wanted to play with them and the Red Sox wanted him, thus the 6 week long wait between that and the eventual announcement of the 1/$5M deal he eventually signed. We don’t yet know all the specifics with Balfour, and we may never know. But until it’s solved it’s gonna look suspicious like it did with Napoli.

    • hittfamily - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      They agreed to a deal as long as medically he checked out. He medically checked out. The O’s backed out for a reason other than what they agreed to. He took himself off the market and took a MRI for no reason, as the O’s were going to back out whether he passed or failed their fake medical test. A deal is a deal. The O’s fooled him into accepting a contract when they had no intention of honoring their end.

    • eatitfanboy - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:13 PM

      The problem is that they might be lying about why they are backing out of the deal and in doing so poisoning a player’s market value with the rest of the teams. I’m kind of surprised you can’t see that.

    • louhudson23 - Dec 21, 2013 at 6:48 AM

      Negotiations were essentially over and terms agreed to,pending his physical. By all known publicly disclosed appearances,he passed the physical with no problems. Now they are refusing to honor the agreement.At the very least,they will be asked to provide some medical basis for their decision. Napoli had an agreement,just like Balfour.An undisputed medical condition was discovered and as per the agreement,the club has the option to dissolve/renegotiate the agreement.To recap,Balfour/O’s negotiations were complete,pending a physical. Unlike Napoli,no (apparent)evidence of a medical problem was discovered.Therefor ,the basis for the Orioles refusal to honor the agreement is being called into question.

  7. buffalo65 - Dec 20, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    I’d take a damaged Balfour over a healthy Rodney any day.

  8. jiggy3198 - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    There a joke of a franchise. And I’m an O’s fan

  9. jacobk621 - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    As a o’s fan since the 60’s I have to say that this owner we have is a joke , I hope Balfour wins and mlb sticks it to Angelos

  10. dhalb34 - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    As an Oakland fan, I appreciate everything Balfour did for us the last three years. Dude is awesome on the mound, and his fiery demeanor reminds me of another great, Dennis Eckersley. As far as the O’s are concerned, what is their plan for next season with the personnel they have? No upgrade in Starting Pitching, Bullpen has been gutted, and lack of depth in the dugout. I can’t understand why, with all of the young talent on that team, are they not building a perennial winner for next season and beyond. They are the worst team in the East based on moves of others in their division.

    • TheBirdsAreBackinBmore - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      i disagree. The orioles bullpen, even without a new closer signing is much better now then it was. Webb is a solid addition

  11. jpalughi823 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    The second I heard this guy was going to be Oriole, I was excited. Should’ve figured it wasn’t going to pan out because of it. We are the Browns/Lions of MLB. Best of luck wherever you land Grant

  12. bravess23 - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    It will be very awkward if the Team that ends up signing him comes out and says they saw nothing wrong with his physical. that maybe the Orioles had last moment other ideas

  13. Fruitland Generic Citizen - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    “It is very hard to see what the Orioles are seeing, especially when no one else is seeing it. ”

    Wrong. Everyone who CAN see a problem (i.e. the O’s team doctors) are legally prohibited from talking about it due to HIPPA laws. Grant Balfour and his two “independent” doctors (both of whom have a vested interest in Balfour being seen as healthy) can say what they want.

    The O’s and their doctors can’t say a word, or they’re in violation of federal law.

    And you’ll notice it’s been almost a week and the supposedly healthy Grant Balfour hasn’t seen a concrete offer yet . Hmm….

    • TheBirdsAreBackinBmore - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      exactly, all these reality tv addicted losers just want some juicy drama to drool over for another hour or so, then back to their meaningless lives. HIPPA laws are no joke, The DR. could easily be stripped of his license if he violates one. Balfour’s Dr. on the other hand have already broken several laws on their clients behalf by discussing his MRI and what they’ve seen. Note, that the Dr. of balfour stated that his shoulder does appear “abnormal” as does all baseball players who pitch. The Orioles must have seen more to indicate a possible “FUTURE” problem. Keep in mind, the orioles trounce out a closer every damn night, they play lots of close games. They need durability @ the closer position, not ra-ra-ra screaming on the mound.

      • djpostl - Dec 29, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        Not when the patient consents lol. If the patient signs off they can discuss it all day long (once they fill out the requisite miles of paperwork).

        Via HHS.gov:

        “An authorization, a detailed document that gives covered entities permission to use protected health information for specified purposes, which are generally other than treatment, payment, or health care operations, or to disclose protected health information to a third party specified by the individual is allowable.

        An authorization must specify a number of elements, including a description of the protected health information to be used and disclosed, the person authorized to make the use or disclosure, the person to whom the covered entity may make the disclosure, an expiration date, and, in some cases, the purpose for which the information may be used or disclosed.”

    • djpostl - Dec 29, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      Yeah…no. Once the patient authorizes discussion of his medical records (see reply below) they can talk about it all day long. And since Balfour has already had his records shown to the Reds & Rays team surgeons he has clearly authorized it.

  14. TheBirdsAreBackinBmore - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Balfour needs to just sign with another team (if healthy) and leave it be. The O’s can choose who they want to sign or not. sorry if your “image” was hurt. Your shoulders hurt more bro. Whoever suggested losing draft picks over this is a fool. God people are so stupid

    • djpostl - Dec 29, 2013 at 4:04 PM

      Yeah, because as a Snorioles fan you are completely objective on this one =P

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