The Baltimore Orioles have backed out of a two year, $15 million agreement with Grant Balfour after claiming they were displeased with the results of his physical. Balfour’s agent denies such claims that the closer is unhealthy. Regardless of the reasoning, Balfour is back on the market and is drawing interest from the New York Yankees, among other teams.
I have previously supported David Robertson to take on the Yankees’ closer role from Mariano Rivera, and I maintain my position. True, he failed during a short tryout as the closer two years ago when Rivera injured his knee, but the current situation is different than the one he faced in 2012.
Robertson has now had a year to mentally prepare himself to take over for the greatest closer of all time rather than being thrown into the role mid-season while another bona fide closer (Rafael Soriano) was waiting in the wings. He’s currently the best arm in the bullpen, and the 28 year old could provide some longevity to a position that is typically as fickle as a game of musical chairs.
Robertson deserves another chance to become the full-time closer, but Balfour could be worth pursuing as an eighth inning man and insurance policy if Robertson’s ninth inning troubles continue. The 6-foot-2 Australian recorded 38 saves in 2013 with a 2.59 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 62.2 innings pitched.
In addition to a closer, New York needs a middle reliever to replace Joba Chamberlain. They still have flame thrower Shawn Kelley, as well as Preston Claiborne, who could assume a larger middle relief role. They also added lefty specialist Matt Thornton. Balfour has been successful as a set-up man and a closer, and could bolster the bullpen in whatever role he’s given. The question is whether or not the Yankees want to pay him $7.5 million a year.