The Orioles may attempt to ramp up their pursuit of Fernando Rodney, the best free-agent closer still available, but they hadn’t done it as of Thursday afternoon.
According to an industry source, the Orioles and Rodney’s representatives have not had any dialogue in weeks while the club narrowed its focus to starting pitching.
That’s contrary to several Internet reports Thursday that said the talks between the Orioles and Rodney had heated up.
That’s not the case, the source says, but perhaps it could be in the near future.
While the sense is the Orioles are still most interested in adding a starting pitcher, they still don’t have an established closer. And, as executive vice president Dan Duquette said Wednesday, the Orioles have room in a budget that could go as high as $100 million (it is currently is about $83 million).
Rodney, a former All-Star closer for the Tampa Bay Rays, is now by far the highest regarded back-end reliever – especially with the Rays’ signing of Grant Balfour, who received a two-year, $12 million deal from Tampa Bay on Thursday.
Balfour, as every Orioles fan knows by now, had a two-year, $15 million deal with the Orioles, pending a physical, in December, but the club backed out after reviewing his medical exams. They wanted to reduce it to a one-year pact, and the deal fell apart.
In his news conference in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Thursday, Balfour was asked whether he’d be even more fired up facing the Orioles this year.
His response: “I guess you’ll have to tune in.”