Grant Balfour Returns To Rays With Two-Year Deal
Heard the breakdown on Balfour deal with #Rays is $5M in 2014, $7M in 2015
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 23, 2014
The news came after a handful of weeks had passed since the Baltimore Orioles canceled their signing of Balfour due to ‘medical issues’ its doctors noticed while giving Balfour the physical required for the deal to be official. Those ‘issues’ turned out to be the subject of great debate. Balfour had an independent examination administered by the Rays’ medical staff and all reports were that he was 100% healthy.
With Balfour back out on the market, Tampa Bay (which employed Balfour from 2007 through 2010) saw fit to sign him once again; this time to be their closer. In his earlier tenure with the Rays, Balfour was primarily a seventh or eighth-inning option for Joe Maddon, but with Fernando Rodney likely leaving via free agency and Balfour’s current status as a premier closer the match makes total sense.
Balfour, 36, saved 64 games for the Oakland A’s between 2011 and 2013. He played a big role in their back-to-back A.L. West Division titles with his power arm and engaging locker room presence. He also pitched to a solid 10.8 K/9 ratio in 2013 and has developed a keen ability to strand most batters he allows on base.
Of course, this deal brings with it an engaging emotional narrative for the upcoming season. Since he signed with a team in the same division as Baltimore, Balfour will likely get the opportunity to demonstrate to the Orioles that he is, in fact, totally healthy and that their decision to cancel their deal with him was a grave mistake by the O’s front office.
That will definitely add some tension to games between the Rays and O’s in the near future. After all, Balfour is one of the most consistently fired-up pitchers in the game.
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