Who do you do want to be the Orioles' closer in 2014?

December 17, 2013|By Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

The bar was busy with some purple-and-black festivities last night. My sincerest apologies to the guy in the Calvin Johnson jersey who got tossed out the window; it really was a simple misunderstanding.

Yeah, we are all getting old.

Anyway, let’s turn our attention to baseball this morning while I pour some hot coffee.

When the Orioles traded closer Jim Johnson to the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 2, the reasoning -- according to executive vice president Dan Duquette -- was so the club could use the roughly $10 million saved on Johnson to fill other needs.

I can buy into that. Spending $10 million on a closer when your overall payroll won’t exceed $100 million doesn’t seem particularly prudent, especially since there are other glaring needs.

What’s been surprising to me, though, is that the Orioles’ hottest pursuit has been another closer. They’ve made a two-year offer to former Oakland closer Grant Balfour. At this point, they haven’t increased to three years -- which Balfour’s camp wants -- and I don’t see them bending on that.

But Balfour is still their main target, at likely $7 million-or-so per season, which wouldn’t really leave much in savings from the trade of Johnson to spend elsewhere.

There are some other options with closer experience who will be cheaper -- guys like Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit and Chris Perez. And some others returning from injury, such as Joel Hanrahan or Ryan Madson.

If it were me, I’d probably bypass Balfour, hand the role to Tommy Hunter in the spring and go after a guy like Hanrahan or Madson as insurance, in case Hunter can’t do it.

And I’d use the rest of the money on an outfielder or designated hitter. I still think Kendrys Morales could and should be a fit and may see his market stalled because the signing team would need to forfeit a top draft pick.

But I know there are a lot of you who want to see the club sign Balfour, who definitely can do the job. Some of you have pined for Benoit.

Let’s have a roll call.

Daily Think Special: Who do you want as the 2014 Orioles’ closer?   

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