The reunion of Grant Balfour with Tampa Bay Rays was long overdue.
After becoming a fan favorite as a middle reliever with the Rays, Balfour was allowed to walk and went west to Oakland after the 2010 season. In his three years as an Athletic, Balfour became the club’s closer recording 62 saves, including 38 in his all-star campaign last season.
This deal was almost impossible, as division rival Baltimore Orioles were on the brink of a deal with Balfour just a week or so ago. Had it not been for concerns over Balfour’s health, the thunder from down under would surely be throwing against the Rays rather than for them.
So is the injury issue a legitimate concern for a man who was just inked to a two-year, $12 million contract? Only time will tell.
However, some believe it was Balfour’s knee and wrist, rather than a previously injured throwing shoulder which turned Baltimore away.
Source: The red flags that came up about Grant Balfour’s physical state were about his wrist and knee, and not about his shoulder.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 13, 2014
While this move could potentially be huge for the Rays, one has to wonder if Balfour got what he wanted. By not signing with Baltimore, Balfour lost an estimated $3 million, and is potentially filing a grievance against the franchise. One has to believe that when Balfour gets his first shot at Baltimore, he will be almost as amped as he was in the 2008 playoffs as he faced Orlando Cabrera.
As many fans in Oakland learned, Balfour tends to get somewhat animated on the mound.
There is also rumor that the Mets and Nationals were hard in on Balfour for around the same $12 million. Without speculating too much, MLB.com’s Ken Rosenthal assumes that a lack of state income tax helped the Rays in this situation.
Lack of state income tax in Florida also was likely factor in Balfour’s decision to sign with #Rays.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2014
Whatever the case, the acquisition of Balfour proves to Rays fans that management apparently had a plan when dealing Alex Torres to San Diego. Rest easy Rays fans, we have a closer.