USATSI_7478338_154511044_lowresAs we learned yesterday, the Rays have signed Grant Balfour to a 2-year, $12 million contract. Over the course of the day, we learned a few things about the Rays and about Balfour.

According to Ken Rosenthal, Balfour turned down a bigger contract offer from the Mets. Balfour also indicated during the press conference that there may have been other bigger offers but that he preferred to play for the Rays and he wanted to be closer to his home which is still in the area.

Joe Maddon also unleashed the “c-word” (his word) by saying The Mad Australian will indeed be the closer. Of course, the Rays always have a closer. But Maddon likes to stay away from the word, in part, because there are fewer complications when he does decide to use somebody else in the ninth inning.

This also suggests that being named the closer was important to Balfour. Otherwise, there would have been no reason for Maddon to change what has worked in the past.

The Rays have also established a pattern in how they build a bullpen. The pick up some young relievers and some mid-level arms early in the off-season. Then they swoop in and grab one high-priced reliever to be the “c-word.”

Rafael Soriano was picked up in December. Kyle Farnsworth was signed in February. Fernando Rodney was signed in January. Now the Rays pick up Balfour in late January.

The obvious benefit is that the Rays can wait for the leftover closers to start getting desperate and lower their prices as other teams have already found closers. The extra benefit is that the Rays can sign guys with the illusion that they will be able to compete for the closer’s job.

Would Bell have signed with the Rays if they already had promised Balfour the ninth inning? Maybe, but when Bell was signed he did make it clear that he wanted to compete for the ninth inning job. Brain fart. Bell was brought in via trade.

In the end, $12 million may have been a bit much for Balfour. He was dominant in 2013, but he may have a hard time repeating the same success, especially over two seasons. But this year’s bullpen was put together the same way as previous bullpens and the formula always seems to work.

One final thought: How much fun are games against the Orioles going to be this year? They basically cost him $3 million by backing out of the deal and many people think it only happened because owner Peter Angelos stepped in and overruled the signing forcing the team to find a way out of the deal.

Here are a few other odds and ends on the Balfour signing

  • To make room for Grant Balfour on the 40-man roster, the Rays designated Pedro Figueroa for assignment. Figueroa had recently been claimed off of waivers.
  • Grant Balfour will make $5 million in 2014 and $7 million in 2015. [Marc Topkin]
  • Stuart Sternberg answered some questions from the media and indicated that the team is not going “all in.” []
  • Mark Simon of ESPN takes a look at Grant Balfour’s pitching tendencies. [@msimonespn]






  1. david says:

    Bell was already signed when we got him from the dbacks, there is nothing he could have done about it!

  2. AJNO says:

    After hearing JoeMa use the C-word when referring to Balfour, Im slightly worried about Heath Bell's "health." If Bell doesnt look good enough in Spring Training to garner any trade attention, I wouldnt be at all surprised to see Bell land on the 60-day DL, and watch the Rays collect insurance on a portion of his contract.

  3. paul says:

    Also, if he signed with the Mets im sure the tax hit would have been alot.

  4. Dave L says:

    Cork the Balfour wanting to be the defined closer observation was very good.

    JoeMa was forced to do it unquestionably

    Also could Balfour have been the impetus behind yesterdays media ignored 'event'? Was he the focus by the way? I found no coverage of the Sponsor Fest anywhere.

    If so I'm fine with it I am definitely not casting aspersions in Grant's direction. I love Balfour's intensity if he's a Ray

    Heath Bell is an absolute bonus insurance policy. If he is healthy he can audition for a closer position in 2015 for somebody else.

    Thats Bell's his prime motivation

    The Rays are the perfect scenario for talented guys to try to revive their wayward MLB careers as a springboard to overpayment elsewhere, thats incentive enough..

    But as Ajno observed if he's healthy

    If not the Dbacks are carrying the load salary wise. Its a win win and a tiny risk for the Rays.

    This roster construction in 2014 is like a Mozart symphony. Hats off to AF.

    • Political_Man says:

      Great analogy. Every time I think we've seen the best of Andrew Freedman he paints out another masterpiece. Clearly the best GM in all of professional sports.

    • Geoff Peterson says:

      I wish he could paint us another lefty hitter with power


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