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12/30/1977 (39 y, 2 m, 27 d)
$12M / 2 Years (2014 - 2015)
Balfour was released by the Rays on Wednesday after opting out of his minor league contract, the Tampa Bay Times reports. (5/27/2015)
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(Click Year to Expand /
The high-octane Aussie was unusually homer-prone in his first year with the A's, allowing his highest home runs per nine rate (1.2) since he was a rookie with the Twins back in 2003. He was still decent overall, though, with 8.6 strikeouts per nine, 2.9 walks per nine and a 3.77 FIP. But if Balfour is to keep anything near his 2.47 ERA, he'll need to cut down on the dingers -- a .232 batting average on balls in play and an 89 percent strand rate don't happen every year. The A's oddly went with the inferior Brian Fuentes in save situations when Andrew Bailey went down with a forearm injury, though it's hard to imagine they'll make the same mistake again with Bailey gone for good. (David Golebiewski)
The Quick Opinion:
Look for Balfour to get saves now that Bailey isn't around -- Fuentes just isn't that good, and Fautino De Los Santos needs to prove he can control his power stuff before he's an option.
What an odd year for Grant Balfour. He entered as the Athletics' closer, lost the gig, shared the gig, reclaimed the gig, and then was just downright lethal. He appeared in 23 games after reclaiming his closer role and he held opponents to a .125/.200/.167 line, striking out 27 in 21.1 innings pitched. He saved fully 17 games from August 11 to the end of the season and now that he's back in Oakland for 2013, he enters as the clear closer for the reigning American League West Champs. Not only will he be a healthy source of saves, but he's also going to add a good deal of strikeouts. Balfour enters the 2013 season at the age of 35, so keep your eye on injury indicators, but Balfour isn't showing any signs of slowing down, and you should feel pretty confident in him as a second-tier closer.
The Quick Opinion:
Balfour enters 2013 with the closer role for a good team in a big ballpark. He should be set for an ERA in the low two's, a WHIP hovering around one, and about a strikeout per inning pitched. If he can stay healthy and keep the gig year long, he could be a sneaky pick for elite closer results.
Balfour has been one of the better relievers in baseball over the past six seasons, with a 2.70 ERA over that time. More impressive, he’s transitioned from throwing over 91% fastballs in 2008 to just 64% last season while still maintaining a high strikeout rate thanks to his slider. A disagreement over the health of his shoulder nixed his deal with the Orioles, leaving the angry Aussie to sign a lesser deal with Tampa Bay. Even though the Rays traded for Heath Bell, they’ve said Balfour will be their closer. That makes him a potentially under-valued asset on draft day... again. (Erik Hahmann)
The Quick Opinion:
He walks more batters than you’d like, but his strikeouts more than make up the difference. He should be a lock for 40 saves next season with a good Tampa Bay club.
One wonders what kind of season it would have been had Grant Balfour's shoulder checked out a little better with the Baltimore Orioles training staff. After his contract was nixed by the white lab coats in Baltimore, Balfour took act and ostensibly healthy appendages back to the Tampa Bay Rays and summarily coughed up a pretty plumb closing gig. He was one of the better closers in baseball with the Oakland Athletics for two seasons, but he entered June of 2014 a mess of control problems and perhaps a little rotten luck, shackled by an era over six, ending games with lots of NSFW potty talk. He threw better in the second half, holding opponents to a .220/.341/.349 slash line in 30 innings from July to the end of the season, but his control problems hamstrung him all season long and he was never able to ultimately right the ship. Although they're on the hook for $7 million, it's unlikely the Rays will let Balfour close with Jake McGee's breakout performance. It's possible Balfour could find some value in holds leagues, but that's probably being optimistic. (
The Quick Opinion:
After four dominant seasons of relief, Grant Balfour had an ironclad grasp of a closing gig and most prognosticators predicted a productive year. By mid-June, he had no defined role, a bloated ERA, his velocity was absent as was his control of the strike zone. Balfour enters 2015 with an albatross contract buried on the closing depth chart.
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Updated: Monday, March 27, 2017 3:36 AM ET
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