The Tampa Bay Rays signed free agent RHP Grant Balfour to a two-year, $12 million deal (Topkin).
Before he signed with Tampa, the Mets offered a similar deal to Balfour, but he preferred to sign with the Rays and be closer to his home in Clearwater, Florida (Rosenthal, Rubin). However, a Mets official denied they made such a bid for Balfour (Puma). Balfour told reporters that there “was more money elsewhere,” but wanted to return to Tampa and Joe Maddon (Topkin).
Balfour originally agreed to sign with the Orioles earlier in the off-season, but Baltimore reportedly had concerns over his medical reports and they decided not to sign him.
Balfour, 35, went 1-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 65 relief appearances for the A’s in 2013, allowing 48 hits and 27 walks with 72 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings.
Michael Baron, ContributorWhether the Mets made an offer or not, it’s too bad this didn’t work out. I do wonder if their inability to guarantee Balfour the closer job impacted his decision to join the Rays instead.
The Mets have have been searching for a solid and stable presence for their bullpen, and Balfour would have been a very good fit for them. He has an extended track record of durability, he throws strikes, and is versatile in the bullpen, all of which the Mets badly need.