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Orioles rumors: Baltimore nearing minor league deal with Johan Santana

Johan might be the second best Santana available.

USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles are nearing a minor league deal with left-hander Johan Santana, according to MASN.com's Roch KubatkoMLB Network Radio's Jim Duquette noted that Santana spent Monday in Orioles camp, leading to speculation that the two sides would soon a swing a deal.

But it might be kind of surprising if he passed the team's physical.

Okay, so there's the Oriolesphysicalexamjoke.

Clearly not funny ... but seriously, if the team thinks Grant Balfour is on the verge of crumbling to pieces like a stale Tim Tam, why would they sign a soon-to-be 35-year-old topping out at 81 mph on his fastball?

That's about 10 mph short of where would like to be, but even if he was sitting in the mid-eigthies, this match would seem strange.

Sure, he's not going to command the same amount of money as Balfour in the end, but Baltimore also turned away Tyler Colvin for a bad physical. That situation seemed too have more to do with the fact that Colvin didn't want to take a minor league deal, which Santana is likely to accept, but Colvin had a major league offer from Baltimore before they examined him.

Fair enough, but since Johan is unlikely to make an impact, and the Orioles have been building a public reputation for failing players in exams, why would they set themselves up for another bombastic talking point against them when the chance of a reward is so small?

In any event, he's been spotted at their camp, so he might sign with the team, but if something comes up in his physical, the Orioles could put themselves in a situation in which their best move would be to pass him through anyway. If nothing else, it would help them avoid furthering their new reputation and perhaps boost attendance at a few minor league games until the jig is up. But Baltimore doesn't seem to operate this way. They seem like the kind of organization that will fail him if he's not up to snuff, which could cost them in the future. Appraently, the Grant Balfour situation cost them a chance at Bronson Arroyo, which -- to some extent -- resulted in their deal with Ubaldo Jimenez, costing them their first-round draft pick and several million dollars. Jimenez could out pitch Arroyo, but he doesn't appear to have been their first choice.

Regardless of what their medical roguery have cost them in the past, it seems as though it could get worse in the near future if another big name is cast aside (like a stale Tim Tam). Santana might not be a great pitcher anymore, but he still looks good at the front of a headline, so a bad deal in Baltimore would probably be big news. Bigger than Tyler Colvin at least ... and that might be enough to seal their fate with free agents -- or their own players -- when negotiating future contracts.

Overall, it's a pretty low-risk signing if the O's know he's going to pass his physical, but if they have any questions about whether or not he's healthy, they should probably pass themselves.