Orioles, Grant Balfour at impasse over contract length

Greg Fiume

The Orioles remain interested in the 35 year old closer, but the sides are still negotiating on the length of a potential deal.

Baltimore has maintained strong interest in Grant Balfour, but the two sides have different designs on the details of a potential contract, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

The Orioles would like to add Balfour in an effort to replace recently-traded closer Jim Johnson, but they don't appear to be ready to offer a 3-year deal, Balfour's reported preference.

The Australian-born reliever has been excellent in his three years with the Athletics, putting up a 2.53 ERA in just under 200 innings and earning 64 saves. He was a pivotal part of an Oakland relief corps that finished sixth in the majors in bullpen ERA.

He could immediately supplant Johnson in the closer's role, and similar results might be safe for the Orioles to expect. Despite Johnson's league-leading 101 saves over the last two seasons, he and Balfour are very similar in terms of career ERA and WHIP. If the O's can land Balfour at less than the $10 million per season that Johnson was asking them for, this signing could be a big win for them.

Balfour could benefit significantly from playing in Baltimore as well. While Camden Yards is a much more hitter-friendly environment than the Oakland Coliseum, the Orioles heavy reliance on a ninth-inning curtain man could boost his market value in the future. On the other hand, he'll be 36 later this month, and he could be looking for three years due to the fact that this could be his last major-league deal.

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