The Orioles’ pursuit of an established veteran closer has seemingly come to an end.
Fernando Rodney, the lone remaining free agent viewed strictly as a closer, has reportedly signed a two-year, $14 million deal with the Seattle Mariners, according to Grantland.com.
The Orioles had interest in Rodney throughout the offseason, but were not aggressive in their negotiations with the right-hander. One source said the Orioles wouldn't approach the $6 million mark annually for Rodney and, therefore, fell several million short.
That means the Orioles are almost certainly going to fill the closer’s job internally, now that Rodney and Grant Balfour (whom the Orioles nearly signed) are off the board and Jim Johnson is with the Oakland Athletics.
Right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter is considered the Orioles’ leading candidate to close games in 2014.
The remaining list of potential free agent closers is a huge dropoff from Rodney, who saved 85 games for the Tampa Bay Rays in the past two seasons.
The list includes former Orioles Francisco Rodriguez and Kevin Gregg and a slew of pitchers attempting to return from injury, such as Ryan Madson, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey and Rafael Betancourt.