In the early portion of the winter, the Baltimore Orioles traded away their closer, Jim Johnson, sending him to the Oakland Athletics for the purpose of freeing up some extra cash that they could use elsewhere. Coming off of a down year, trading Johnson made sense to a certain degree, but it wasn’t a popular move with fans as he was a fan favorite in the ninth inning.
Since that point, the O’s have failed to fill their vacancy in the closer spot, with most assuming they’d go with an in-house option like Tommy Hunter to fill the ninth inning void. There was that flirtation with Grant Balfour that nearly led to a deal, but reported concerns over his physical led to that falling through. Now it looks like the Orioles may have found their closer for 2014, or are at least getting in serious talks with him.
Reports around the league are indicating that the O’s are closing in on a deal with Fernando Rodney to serve as the team’s close for the 2014 season. Rodney is one of a few relievers remaining on the market capable of handling ninth inning duties. With Balfour having been picked up by the Tampa Bay Rays, the O’s look to be moving in to scoop up Rodney quickly.
Rodney is 36 and coming off of what could be easily be described as the two best years of his career. His 2012 was particularly dominant, as he posted that legendary 0.60 ERA and 48 saves, in stranding 89 percent of baserunners. While he wasn’t quite as strong in 2013, he still went for 37 saves, a 3.38 ERA, and a very good 2.84 FIP.
It remains to be seen what type of deal Fernando Rodney might get from Baltimore if the two sides are able to come to an agreement, but it’ll likely be a one-year deal, maybe two maximum. It might end up being similar to the 2/$12 million that Balfour received from Tampa Bay. With the reliever market beginning to dwindle, expect things to move fast between the two sides.