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Nationals Reportedly Showing Interest In Grant Balfour

Are the Washington Nationals going to make another late-winter move to shore up their bullpen?'s Ken Rosenthal's sources are telling him the Nats have expressed interest in veteran reliever Grant Balfour, a free agent who had a deal with Baltimore that fell apart...

Rob Carr

In an article last week on what each NL team could do to improve itself before the Hot Stove season ends and Spring Training begins, former major league GM and current MLB Network Radio host and ESPN writer/analyst Jim Bowden wrote that the Washington Nationals could potentially land the second left-hander they've been after for their pen by trading from their surplus of right-handed relievers for someone like the Minnesota Twins' Glen Perkins. Drew Storen was the reliever Bowden mentioned the Nats dealing. Another Storen-related rumors has cropped up this morning.'s Ken Rosenthal writes that the Nats might consider dealing Storen, 26, who avoided arbitration this week and agreed to a 1-year/$3.45M deal for 2014, to make room for free agent right-hander and potential backup closer Grant Balfour.

Rosenthal writes that, according to a "major league source," the Nationals' motivation in locking up arbitration-eligible veterans Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann on two-year deals, "...was to create financial flexibility. The Nationals have two remaining arbitration cases. They have made no secret that they want to add another bat off the bench. But they also are interested in Balfour, sources said." The bow-tied reporter's sources also told him the Nats, "prefer Clippard as the set-up man," and, "would like to trade Storen."

A deal for Balfour, Rosenthal notes, "...could give the Nationals a late-inning alternative to [Rafael] Soriano in ’14 and a full-time alternative in ’15 as well." The 2-year/$28M deal Soriano signed last winter includes a vesting option for 2015 that vests if the closer finishes 120 games between last season and 2014, and the Nats, "...almost certainly do not want Soriano to pitch enough games," for that to happen, Rosenthal writes, and after "finishing" 58 games last season, he's 62 finishes away.

Were they to trade Storen and save $3.45M there combined with what they, "...saved in the first year of the Desmond and Zimmermann extensions... the increased flexibility in ‘14 could amount to approximately $8 million - close to the number it would take to land Balfour and another bench player."

Balfour, 36, reportedly had a 2-year/$15M deal in place with Baltimore before the Orioles were scared off by concerns with what they saw in his MRI. He remains a free agent several weeks after that deal fell through.

The veteran of 10 MLB seasons hit free agency this winter coming off a 38-save campaign in Oakland in 2013 which saw him post a 2.59 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 27 walks (3.88 BB/9) and 72 Ks (10.34 K/9) in 65 games and 62 2/3 IP for the A's over which he was worth +0.6 fWAR. Balfour has a career 3.29 ERA and a 3.59 FIP over 473 IP for the Twins, Rays and A's. As Mr. Rosenthal notes, after the problems with the Orioles, subsequent tests by other physicians "...saw no problem with Balfour's arm."'s Buster Olney wrote on Twitter last week that the, " flags that came up about Grant Balfour's physical state were about his wrist and knee, and not about his shoulder.

Does Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo have another late-winter deal coming to fill whatever needs he feels remain for the 2014 roster?