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O's sign Balfour to two-year contract

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The Baltimore Orioles have finally done something of some significance this offseason, reaching an agreement on a two-year contract worth $15 million with closer Grant Balfour.

Balfour had a lot of success in Oakland, so the hope is that the 35-year old can come to Baltimore and continue to pitch well. He is familiar with the AL East from his time with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Essentially, the Orioles traded Jim Johnson for one extra year of Balfour, Jemile Weeks, a minor league catcher and $2.5 million.

Balfour's numbers are arguably better overall than Johnson's that past few seasons. That said, Balfour pitched in a bigger ballpark in a climate which is typically much cooler and features a marine layer. He also did not have to face AL East clubs nearly as often as Johnson.

The Orioles still have big holes in left field and in the starting rotation. Second base and designated hitter are two other areas of concern. It will be interesting to see how the O's look to fill those holes.

It's become pretty clear that A.J. Burnett is their No. 1 target for the starting rotation. It looks like the team will settle for internal options at second base and probably DH as well. Shin-Soo Choo would be a terrific addition in left field, but it seems unlikely that the O's will be willing to shell out that kind of money. After Choo, the available targets for left field are almost non-existent.

The O's could always explore a trade, and I'm sure that's something that Dan Duquette has tried with several clubs. However, the O's don't have a deep farm system. It's very top-heavy with some of the game's top prospects, but the O's aren't willing to trade any of them, and rightfully so. That makes it very hard to make a deal with another club, as there is not a lot of interest in the O's prospects after Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Hunter Harvey, Eduardo Rodriguez and Jonathan Schoop.

At some point, Peter Angelos is going to have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you might have to overpay to get a player that fills a big need. There is certainly the need for restraint and bargain bin shopping in a free agent market that is often quite out of control with the dollars being spent, but that doesn't mean that it isn't worth overpaying at some point to get a player that would really help improve the club.



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