Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Winter Meetings: Orioles still hoping to sign Balfour

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Baltimore Orioles ended the winter meetings with the hope that they would still be able to sign Grant Balfour.
The Orioles have offered Balfour a contract, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said he hopes to sign a closer to replace Jim Johnson.
"We should be able to add a closer to our team. There are some good choices that are available on the market. We're talking to a lot of people, and we hope to be able to fill that job soon," Duquette said on Thursday.
Duquette was planning to stay in Florida until Friday because Baltimore's minor league director Brian Graham was going to be presented with an award.
"There are a couple of players we have started negotiations with that we're hopeful that we'll be able to sign," Duquette said. "We'll be able to add a couple of more players based on the work we did in the next week or so."
If the Orioles don't sign Balfour, they could look to John Axford, who was nontendered by St. Louis, Chris Perez or Fernando Rodney.
Baltimore was busy Thursday morning with two selections in the Rule 5 draft. They were counterintuitive choices with third baseman Michael Almanzar selected from Boston in the major league portion of the draft and outfielder Julio Borbon, who has played in the World Series, picked from the Chicago Cubs in the Triple-A segment.
Borbon is a left-handed hitter, which Duquette said the team had been looking for, and with the recent signing of right-handed reliever Ryan Webb, he's happy.
The meetings have been helpful for us to staff our team," Duquette said. "We're going to come out of here with the addition of a pitcher (Ryan Webb) and these two players we added today and we're going to continue to work on some of the groundwork we laid on trades. Hopefully that will bear some fruit with players to bring back to Baltimore."
Almanzar signed with the Red Sox in 2008. Besides playing third, Almanzar has also played first base.
Last year, he hit .268 with 16 home runs and 81 RBIs for Double-A Portland. It was the first time he played above Single-A.
"He's got all the tools and capabilities to be a big league ballplayer," Duquette said.
Borbon batted .202 in 72 games for Chicago last year. In parts of four seasons, he has a .272 average for Texas and the Cubs. He played in two World Series games for the Rangers in 2010.
"He's had some good major league experience. He's had some good contributions in the major leagues, getting on base with his bat, playing defense and also with his legs," Duquette said. "We had some interest in him in the past. We considered claiming him for our major league club this year. We discussed that internally and almost did that."
HERE'S RYAN: Even though his contract was agreed to last week, Ryan Webb passed his physical this week and spoke to reporters on a conference call.
Webb was nontendered by the Miami Marlins, and quickly reached agreement with Baltimore.
"They were one of the first ones to reach out to me and my agent. That's always a good sign. And it was literally hours after I was non-tendered by the Marlins. It's a good feeling when somebody's on you that quick. They've paid attention to me and probably wanted me for a while," Webb said.
Webb is not expected to replace Jim Johnson as closer. He doesn't have a save in five big league seasons for Miami and San Diego.
"Obviously, the defense there is amazing and that was a big part of my decision in the end," Webb said. "You always want to play behind a very good defense like the Orioles have.
"Their lineup is incredible. I think they're going to compete in that division and I want to help make them a playoff team."
DEAL DONE: The Orioles acquired catcher David Freitas from the Athletics to complete the trade that sent Jim Johnson to Oakland for Jemile Weeks last week.