Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - The Baltimore Orioles remain in the market for a new closer after the team announced Friday that it has backed out of an agreement with free agent Grant Balfour due to medical concerns.
Sources told the Baltimore Sun that the issue was with Balfour's throwing shoulder. The veteran right-hander missed the entire 2006 season recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum, though he has appeared in at least 62 games in each of the last three years.
Balfour, who saved a career-high 38 games for the AL West champion Oakland Athletics in 2013, had come to terms with Baltimore on a two-year contract worth a reported $15 million which was to have been made official Friday.
"The Orioles are moving on from this situation," Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a conference call Friday. "There was no contract. There was an understanding pending a physical exam."
Balfour, coming off a season in which he posted a 2.59 earned run average and struck out 72 batters in 62 2/3 innings, was slated to replace Jim Johnson, whom the Orioles traded to Oakland earlier this month.
With Balfour now out of the mix, the Orioles could turn back to the free-agent market to find Johnson's successor, with Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez among those with previous closing experience that are still unsigned.
"I guess the good news is we have other options to look at as we continue to try to improve our ballclub," said Duquette, who also did not rule out elevating one of the team's current relievers into the closer's role.