Just last week All-Star closer Grant Balfour was in talks with the Washington Nationals yet it was announced today that the Tampa Bay Rays are most likely the team that Balfour will end up with. According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal the contract is for two years and $12 million, only $3 million less than his potential contract with the Baltimore Orioles.
After his deal with the Baltimore Orioles fell through due to concerns regarding his health, Balfour was in desperate need of a home; a home where he could be allowed to close and excite the fans with his “Balfour Rage,” a term coined by Oakland Athletics’ fan Will MacNeil.
The idea spread around Oakland’s O.Co Coliseum like wild fire every time his name was announced the entire stadium of fans were pumping their fists in the air and moshing to Metallica in unison, Balfour may have found that home in returning to the Tampa Bay Rays where he had previously played for three years when the team was still called the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
With the free agency of Rays’ former closer, Fernando Rodney, and the speculation of him joining the Orioles, this could be a perfect spot for Balfour to land. If he had signed with Washington as was suspected by many, he would have had to settle for the se- up role; a role that he is not meant to play. Balfour is great under pressure and will have the chance to close out games in his famous, loud-mouth, profanity ridden Aussie style with the Rays
Balfour spent the last three seasons in Oakland; earning a bid to the All-Star game and breaking the Oakland record for consecutive saves that was held previously by Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. With the A’s in 2013 Balfour posted a 2.59 ERA and racked up 38 saves, blowing only two during the regular season. Balfour had 38 saves for the A’s last season and posted a 2.59 ERA in 62.2 innings pitched. He had a 1.197 WHIP and Coming to another winning team, Balfour is set to get plenty of save opportunities, although the AL East might turn out to be very competitive for the Australian closer.
Over his ten-year career, Balfour is 28-17 with an ERA of 3.27 and 72 saves. He was only just moved into the closer role in Oakland in 2012 and it is certainly possible that the 35-year old pitcher will take over that role, the role he thrives upon, on his new team in Tampa Bay. Coming to another winning team should put Balfour in the right situations to rack up a number of saves, though the American League East is certainly a tough division,
With Balfour’s apparent signing in the works, it appears now that the “Saga of Grant Balfour” may finally be coming to a close.