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Grant Balfour still has many things to say about the botched deal with the Orioles

Dec 20, 2013, 8:50 PM EDT

Grant Balfour isn’t going to let this issue go silently into the night. After the Orioles backed out of a two-year, $15 million contract with Balfour, the right-hander said he is considering filing a grievance. He continued to defend himself, saying that he has multiple doctors on his side vouching for his health. He also has a consistent track record of health and consistency over the last six seasons.

There’s still more. Via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Maybe the Orioles can be banned from signing free agents, the way they were in South Korea? I kid, kind of.

  1. flamethrower101 - Dec 20, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    The longer the O’s go without explaining themselves the worse they look. At least when there was a 6 week delay w/ BOS and Napoli’s deal, they were actually negotiating in good faith. Here, the O’s are remaining silent so the only word we have to go on is Balfour’s. Whether he’s actually right or wrong, until the O’s speak up, people will take Balfour’s side.

    • tgthree - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      Why do the Orioles have to explain themselves at all? Their doctors saw something they didn’t like, and it’s not up to the Rays’ doctors or the Reds’ doctors what the Orioles should think of Balfour’s condition. (Also, does it not strike anyone as a conflict of interest that the Rays’ doctor would speak out, when the whole reason the Rays are giving Balfour a physical is because they are considering signing him to a deal that will ostensibly be worth far less than $15 million?)

      I can come up with three scenarios:

      1) There was some sort of “document of understanding” signed between Balfour and the Orioles prior to his physical, which dictated that only legitimate physical concerns would be cause for the contract not to be executed.

      In this case, Balfour might have legitimate cause to go through a grievance procedure. They’ll win the grievance if they didn’t do anything wrong, or if they did, they will lose and be subjected to some sort of punishment. But even if that’s the case, it’s not as if the Orioles have to explain themselves.

      2) There was some sort of legitimate “handshake agreement” in place (as is potentially custom around baseball) that the two parties had reached a point where the contract was understood to be essentially signed, pending a physical.

      In this case, the Orioles know that they’re violating generally accepted protocol, and are clearly willing to accept whatever intangible penalty comes with doing so. The only one I can think of is that future free agents might be wary of doing business with the O’s, but my bet is that money still talks. No need for explanation.

      3) News of the signing leaked to the press (very possibly from Balfour’s camp) before the parties had ever gotten to any stage where an agreement was considered to be final (even pending physical).

      People take it as the word of God when some reporter tweets that “a baseball source” said that a certain player is going to sign with a certain team. We may be jumping to conclusions in saying that any contract ever even reached the agreement stage.

      Maybe the Orioles did something shady, maybe they didn’t. But whatever they did, it’s not as if they didn’t know the consequences of their actions and weren’t prepared to accept them.

    • tgthree - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:27 PM

      And so what if people take Balfour’s side? Anyone following this closely enough to know what’s going on isn’t about to change their team allegiance over something like this. Casual fans will almost definitely never hear about it or appreciate its significance.

    • @Cereal_22 - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:38 PM

      O’s fans haven been held captive by Peter Angelos for a long time….the O’s compete against the AL East & their own owner

    • jfk69 - Dec 21, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      I went to buy a used car and the dealer said don’t worry I have a mechanic on site to check it out for you. I said. ” Don’t worry I brought my own mechanic to check out your mechanic and the car. n

  2. tfbuckfutter - Dec 20, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Lack of Grant Balfour is definitely what has been keeping the Orioles out of the World Series for the last 30 years.

  3. xpensivewinos - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    Perhaps they backed out because he’s crazy.

    Just one theory……

    • anxovies - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      When has that ever stopped a team from signing a pitcher with good stuff?

  4. wheels579 - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    Exactly what would be reason for a grievance? The Orioles didn’t sign him to a contract. They don’t owe him anything. It’s not even Christmas yet so he shouldn’t be able to claim he didn’t have opportunity to sign elsewhere. Other teams can look at the same medical records he and his agent claim are fine. He wasn’t slandered in any egregious manner. Players end up taking less money due to injury concerns all the time. Angelos can be a jerk but he has the right to back out until a deal is signed and Balfour should just move on to the Rays or wherever instead of throwing a tantrum. Either he has proof of good health or he doesn’t, and if so he’ll have no problem finding work.

    • rdillon99 - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:39 PM

      The grievance would be that he had an agreement with the O’s for a 2 year, $15 million contract, which was subject only to passing a physical. The O’s would have had access to his medical records prior to making that agreement. The purpose of the physical would be merely to confirm that the medical records previously viewed were accurate. Unless the physical brought up some new material information of a significant health issue that was not contained within his prior medical records, the O’s would not have the right to simply back out of the deal… So, in short, the issue for the grievance would be whether or not the physical turned up such new information.

      • yournuts - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:02 PM

        All physicals are done by the team Doctor. You must pass the team physical. If the team Doctor has a problem he will relay his concerns to the GM. It is up to the GM or owner from there.

      • jrd8523 - Dec 21, 2013 at 7:59 AM

        Yournuts: Obviously.

        The problem is that Grant Balfour doesn’t believe the doctor acted in good faith, and that the real issue is that the Orioles wanted to find an excuse to back out of an agreement.

      • jyoung1891 - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:36 AM

        I would think that, if there were a case for a grievance, it would be based on the impact that the Orioles’ action has on his market value. The Orioles in essence put a cap on Balfour’s salary by negotiating a deal that he was willing to accept. Then they pulled out of the deal. Now, he has to look for a “next highest” bidder, with the stigma of possible physical problems.

        Or maybe, like someone else said, Balfour’s crazy.

      • chuckleberry1974 - Dec 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

        They absolutely have the right to back out of the deal until the contract is signed, forwarded to the league office, and approved by the commissioner’s people. Also, the issue for the grievance would not be whether new information was found. It would be that there was NO new information was found in Balfour’s opinion. Just because a couple of other doctors said his shoulder and elbow look clean doesn’t mean that the Orioles doctor didn’t like what he saw in the physical as opposed to what was in his previous records. The O’s doctor also could be of the opinion that he didn’t like the old records either. Who knows? Point is, he really has no basis for a grievance unless he has some proof of wrongdoing. Burden of proof is his. He’d have to prove that the Orioles did something wrong. Even if there was no new medical stuff that was serious, and they decided to back out of the deal for some other reason, they have the absolute right to do do until the commissioner’s office approves the contract. This grievance feels like sour grapes.

  5. wheels579 - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    What is Balfour’s side other than a series of angry tweets? Will his grievance be that the Orioles were disrespectful and that they lost their best chance at winning the World Series by not signing him? If he actually has a case, why rant & rave like a maniac? Napoli made himself more money by taking the one-year deal and having a big season, and Napoli actually had a viable health issue. So sign with Tampa for one year, save 40+ games and cash in next year. Or pursue a multi-year deal elsewhere. If he’s truly healthy, he has little to worry about.

  6. wheels579 - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    Peter Angelos is a jerk, but it’s hard to figure he’d back out of a deal beyond a point of no return where he could be on the hook for up to $15 million. He’d be better off with the player than without. It’s also hard to figure Balfour wouldn’t just file the grievance without acrimony if he had the Orioles in violation of something. So it seems something related to his health is in dispute and the Balfour camp feels it necessary to wage a PR war instead of relying on the medical information they claim vindicates him. That doesn’t sound like a player who feels confident he can get another job. And he’s making it harder to get one if other teams feel like he’ll sue them if they find anything in his records they don’t like once they go down that rabbit hole.

  7. onbucky96 - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Ooh! File a grievence, go ahead. I think the O’s realized they were going to give Grant BallFour $14million. Dude was terrible in Milwaukee.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      Geez, he didn’t play 3 innings total in Milwaukee. Talk about a small sample size fallacy.

      He has a career 3.27 ERA, 128 ERA+, 1.186 WHIP, and a 9.8 K/9 innings. However, one May feel about him personally, he’s no scrub.

    • furryroadkill - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      I hope that was sarcasm…unless you’re talking about the 3 total games he pitched for Milwaukee in 2007. If that’s what you’re going on, then yea, guess he was pretty awful in those 3 games.

      7.5 mil aav for an established closer that hasn’t had era over 2.60 in the last 4 yrs is pretty reasonable I think. Would love to see Cleveland offer him same contract and let him and Axford fight it out for the 9th.

      • furryroadkill - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:43 PM

        You beat me to it raysfan…his last 6yrs are even better than the career stats you have listed. I think 6yrs is a pretty good measure for a player.

  8. yost73 - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    The Yankees are waiting for you, Grant! They won’t jerk you around!

  9. baseballisboring - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Best chance at winning, huh? Yeah…

    I don’t think ol’ Grant understands the value of relief pitching.

  10. dinofrank60 - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    A little more info wouldn’t hurt, unless Duquette doesn’t want to embarrass Balfour.

  11. mikhelb - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    I remember one instance where it happened that a team sent injuried players to another team, the acquiring team relied on reports of medics of other teams:

    In the mid 1990s when the Yankees acquired Graeme Lloyd and Pat Listach, but Selig’s Brewers knew one of their players was injuried when they sent documents to make it appear both players were OK. A few days after the deal went down and the Yanks noticed what happened, they filed a grievance, Milwaukee sent Ricky Bones (who was also injuried and was placed in the DL less than a week after the acquisition); Listach was returned to Milwaukee at the end of the season (spent his time with the NYY in the DL, never playing a single game with them).

    MLB determined back then that Selig’s Brewers didn’t incurr in any wrongdoing.

    The Yanks sent “the other” Williams in that trade to Milwaukee, and Wickman.

  12. beachnbaseball - Dec 21, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    The Baltimore Orioles. MLB’s 3-Ring Circus.

    • Old Gator - Dec 21, 2013 at 7:11 AM

      Spend much time in Macondo, do you?

  13. janessa31888 - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Why don’t you go after Chris Perez instead? He’s available. (And Brody,as well)

  14. jpalughi823 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    FML, why do I even bother with this team anymore?

  15. randomdigits - Dec 21, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    So he wants to hear the O’s side. Well HIPAA keeps the O’s doctors from saying anything about what they saw. How about Mr Balfour sign a release allowing them to discuss the issue?

    • raysfan1 - Dec 21, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      Technically HIPAA doesn’t actually apply to the Orioles–it does to their team physician and his/her staff, but not to the team. They do have to abide by the Privacy Act however. Regardless, neither law constrains them from releasing information to him when it was him getting the physical.

      I’ve often wondered if the players have all signed some blanket release, though, since teams routinely reveal diagnosis and prognosis of players on injury lists.

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