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Report: The Rays are “deep into discussions” with Grant Balfour

Jan 23, 2014, 1:16 PM EDT

grant balfour getty Getty Images

Earlier this afternoon word began to circulate that the Tampa Bay Rays plan a “significant baseball-related announcement” today, and that the team’s owner, GM and manager will all be on hand for it. While many folks had a lot of fun speculating fantastical possibilities, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reports that the Rays are “deep into discussions with closer Grant Balfour. Suggesting that the announcement today will be a signing.

Balfour had a deal in place with the Orioles last month, but the team put the kibosh on it due to concerns about his wrist that they say came up during his physical. Balfour forcefully denied that anything was wrong with him.

Balfour posted a 2.35 ERA in his three years with Oakland while notching 64 saves. He pitched for the Rays from 2007 through 2010, so this would be a homecoming. And being in the same division as the Orioles, expect a lot of glares up to the GM’s box every time he closes one out in Baltimore.

  1. raysfan1 - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    I’ll be very happy to have him back.

    This also helps explain the willingness to trade Torres to the Padres.

    • indaburg - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      It’s official! I’m doing a happy dance! :-)

      • spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        Yeehaa! Friedman strikes again with Balfour, if that is possible.

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        Good move; one more time. I agree, raysfan, it puts yesterday’s trade in perspective.

  2. spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    It is addition by subtraction too. How, to offset the Tanaka signing, go out and get the top closer left when you rival has that exposed weakness. Of course it isn’t the impact of Tanaka, but it may illuminate the Bombers weakness in the pen, and force New York into accepting a lesser option.

    • uyf1950 - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      I’ll admit I will be disappointed if the Yankees don’t sign Balfour. But we still aren’t sure that the Orioles concerns about knee and wrist have been addressed.

      Please don’t take this the wrong way but your comment makes it sound as if Robertson is “chopped liver” when it comes to closing for the Yankees. At least that’s the way it sounds to me.

      • spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        Well UYF, my friend, I believe you are guilty of projection. It is hardly controversial that the Yanks are in need of bull pen help. I happen to think more of Robertson than many, but whether he can close or not isn’t the primary issue.

        Who replaces him in the set-up role? Plus, it looks like Huff will be a goner, and while a healthy productive Thornton is probable, no other current Yankee is slated to augment him, and two lefty relievers is vital in Yankee stadium.

        Still a lot of work to do in the pen, and fewer and fewer options. Nothing is more demoralizing than blowing games late.

      • spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        It is a done deal. Two years $12 mil. The Rays are shining!!

      • uyf1950 - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        My friend the Yankees have other options for the bullpen although I do agree it would be nice to have someone to compliment Robertson at the back of the bullpen.

        I think you are misinformed about the Yankees options for LH’ed help for the pen. Aside from Thornton they Cabral a prospect Nik Turley and in a pinch Vidal Nuno all 4 of those guys are lefties.

        Taking an objective look at the Yankees bullpen as of today I see not in any particular order:
        Robertson/Warren/Thornton/Cabral/Betances, Phelps if Pineda wins the last starting rotation spot and Nuno. My guess is the Yankees need one new arm to finish the bullpen. And as I’m sure we both know their is plenty of time to sign that one arm. Guys that should be available for little cost but high potential in late spring: Bailey and Hanrahan come to mind. And although not my favorite possibility in fact one of my least favorite is Rodney who’s still available.

        BTW, I just read that the Rays have an agreement with Balfour. It’s for something in the neighborhood of 2 years / $12MM but that number may change slightly. And YES I am officially disappointed in that signing.

      • spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        Actually, I did a little research yesterday on the Yankees’ other “options”. Cabral may have some unseen talent, but he was pretty bad in 2013 before being called up. Turley was just OK in AA, and probably not ready to make the jump to the Bigs, and Nuno who has posted good numbers but has pitched exactly 5 games above AA.

        I agree that a healthy Bailey, Hanrahan, or even Rodney could fit the need, but the Yankees sure don’t need one more question mark.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      While Cashman has some flaws, which many are quick to point out, it is tough to argue against his skill in building a bullpen on the cheap. He has done quite well, even with Torre destroying one arm per season throughout the Aughts.

      • spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        Actually, I think Cashman has done a pretty good job in this off-season. The Roberts, Sizemore, and Ryan deals are all great IMHO.

        And while constructing an effective bull pen out of lesser known quantities is possible, those options are getting slimmer, and the lesser known, are becoming even lesser known.

  3. tmhofficial - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Tampa Bay just seems to always get the best value. They play Chess while the rest of MLB plays Go Fish.

    This would be a fantastic signing for them, and sort of makes the Torres deal more understandable.

    • spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      I agree, but I happen to believe the Cards are at least playing checkers.

      • tmhofficial - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:30 PM

        Very true, same can be said for a handful of teams. The rest play Go Fish, except the Astros and Marlins, who sold their cards for $.25.

      • spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:32 PM

        Pile on while you can. The Astros will rebound, and the Fish seem to find a way to surge on occasion.

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        Hope you are right, spud. Not looking for a lot from the Astros this year, but perhaps we get some real signs of life. It’s been a dreary time.

      • spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Believe in Luhnow.

      • tmhofficial - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        Their plan, the Astros, is a fine one I guess. But for a mid to large market team to have a $20 million payroll last year is an embarrassment.

        And for the Marlins to trick taxpayers into getting them a new stadium, only to bottom out on payroll again and pocket the revenue from said stadium is also worth a few shots.

        Call it piling on if you want, but it’s warranted.

      • spudchukar - Jan 23, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        The Astros are a Large, Large market team, but better to suck for awhile, and build from within, than to be perennial also-rans.

        I certainly don’t approve of the Marlins’ style, but they have a lot more championship flags than most.

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        Contrary to common perceptions, the Astros were not driven primarily by the money to get to 20 MM$ payroll. It was the slash and burn philosophy that they were starting over and trading every experienced player they could for prospects to build on. When the team left is almost exclusively rookies, how much do you expect to pay?

        Besides, that number is low, they had carryover from Wandy Rodriguez’s contract to the tune of about 9 MM$ more.

        I’m not saying I’m a total fan of the results. And Luhnow would tell you right now the results were worse than he expected them to be in 2013. A lot of his imagined leaders did not stand up. But the primary purpose was not to get to 20 MM$. It was to accelerate the rebuild. The low salary structure was a by-product. They will be about 30 MM$ higher this year.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Wouldn’t it be more Tampa’s style to sign someone like Luis Ayala and watch him flourish to s sub-1.00ERA and 75 saves, or some other ridiculous line?

  5. sawxalicious - Jan 24, 2014 at 2:17 AM

    Bullpens are always a crap shoot at the beginning of the season. You can have a pen full of vets making 5-6 million each and they can do well or tank, same with a bullpen of lesser known rookies or journeymen.

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