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Grant Balfour's deal with O's reportedly scotched

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Leon Halip

I didn't understand why the A's traded for Jim Johnson, and I didn't understand how the O's were able to reportedly sign Grant Balfour for what seemed a bargain price. I didn't really understand any of it. Until now:

Free-agent closer Grant Balfour's deal with the Baltimore Orioles is in jeopardy of falling through due to a concern over his physical, according to ESPN's Tim Kurkjian.

A source familiar with the situation told ESPN, however, that the deal could be revived with a lesser contract. This scenario would be similar to the contract reduction accepted last winter from Boston by Mike Napoli after concerns about the then-free agent catcher/designated hitter caused the Red Sox to back away from their initial long-term offer.

Well, this still doesn't explain why the A's would happily trade for the Orioles' Jim Johnson, who's slated to make around $10 million next season. But it does explain why they let Balfour get away. We were wondering, since Balfour is essentially the same pitcher -- when healthy, that is -- as Johnson, and wound up costing significantly less money.

But now it seems quite possible that the Athletics were frightened away by Balfour's medicals.

I still don't understand why they'll happily pay Johnson $10 million, though. I just don't see the need, especially considering how many live arms they've got on the roster. I guess I'll never understand it, unless Johnson pitches like Craig Kimbrel or the A's flip him next summer for a couple of prospects. Paying $6 million for a few months of good short relief work and a Grade B+ prospect ... that might actually make some sense. That's the sort of thing they make movies about.