With a number of top talents on the free-agent market this off-season, forecasting the most dramatic stateside pursuit would belong to Grant Balfour seemed silly. But you would've been correct. In late December the Baltimore Orioles negated their 2 years, $15 million dollar agreement with the former Oakland Athletics closer. Unlike the situation faced Boston Red Sox catcher Mike Napoli this past season – in which the original offer sheet was voided and later replaced under new terms -- Baltimore has seemingly removed themselves from talks with Balfour altogether.
While the extent of Baltimore’s reservations or relation to rotator cuff surgery Balfour underwent during the 2005 season was not released, it's cited the state of the veteran's right (throwing) shoulder was called into question during medicals.
Aside from the 'red flag' raised by the Orioles organization, there has been no indication -- on or off the field -- that the All-Star reliever has operated at less than one-hundred percent. Dating to the 2008 season, the 36 year-old has displayed unparalleled versatility at the Major League level. In tallying the fifth lowest bullpen ERA at 2.74 (min. 350 IP), Balfour has emerged as the lone pitcher to total 70 holds and 70 saves. In addition, operating in stellar form over his career versus current American League West rosters outside Seattle, take a look:
In support of Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays Orthopedic Team Physician Koco Eaton released a statement upon re-evaluation of the right-handed reliever, stating, "The MRI that I did on him today looked exactly the same as the MRI I did three years ago." Eaton continued, "there are abnormalities on the MRI as there are on every single baseball player's. But three years ago, there was no issue, and he had pretty good performances when he was with Oakland."