Sometimes in baseball the best deals are the ones you don’t make.
After trading away Jim Johnson and his 101 saves between 2012 and 2013, the Baltimore Orioles agreed to sign veteran closer Grant Balfour to a two-year, $15 million deal — pending a physical of course. The O’s ending up not liking what they saw from Balfour’s right shoulder and backed out of the deal. They were torched in the media for doing so and Balfour signed on with the Rays for two-years, $12 million.
Balfour pitched to a 4.91 ERA over 62.1 innings with Tampa Bay in 2014 and his fastball dipped from the expected 92-93 MPH to 88-91 MPH. In six appearances this season, Balfour’s season has started similarly. In six appearances he’s pitched to a 6.23 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.
Over the weekend, the Rays designated Balfour for assignment and are reportedly prepared to eat the remaining $7 million on his salary. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
Balfour, 37, said he was a bit surprised by the decision and that his arm feels good, but he acknowledged he doesn’t “have the same fastball” and that some time off may help. He was 2-6 with a 4.91 ERA last season to start a two-year, $12 million deal and had a 6.23 ERA this season through six games.
After letting Balfour go, the Orioles replaced Tommy Hunter in the ninth inning with Zach Britton who totaled 37 saves and posted a 1.65 ERA in 2014. It’s hard to believe, but he looks even more nasty this season with a little more swing and miss (14.2 K/9 through 6.1 IP).
Image Credit: Keith Allison