Free Agent Stock Watch: Grant Balfour

One member of the Rays' 2010 bullpen has already inked a lucrative three-year deal, but Joaquin Benoit won't be the only Tampa Bay reliever to draw interest this winter. Let's examine the stock of Grant Balfour, another of the team's free agent right-handers.

The Good

  • Balfour posted a 2.98 ERA in three seasons for Tampa Bay, including a 2.28 mark in 2010. In his 181 innings over the last three years, he's struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings, and even closed occasionally, recording eight saves.
  • He has enjoyed that success while playing in the tough AL East, so there shouldn't be any doubt about his ability to play for any team in either league.
  • When MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ranked the top 50 free agents, he placed Balfour just a few spots behind Benoit. Considering Benoit earned a $16.5MM deal, Balfour's odds of signing for multiple years look good.

The Bad

  • Balfour is a Type A free agent, meaning it'll cost a high draft pick to sign him if he declines arbitration. For teams with protected first round picks or teams who sign two or three Type A players, this won't be as significant an issue, but it could limit his market to some extent.
  • Though the 33-year-old doesn't have a history of health problems, he did spend a month on the disabled list in 2010 with a rib injury.
  • Balfour has only thrown more than 60 innings once in his career, in 2009. It was the worst of his seasons with the Rays (4.81 ERA, 4.4 BB/9).

The Verdict

We haven't heard much yet about the market for Balfour this offseason, but he's coming off an impressive 2010 campaign and should be one of the more appealing non-closers available. MLBTR's writers were split on where the righty will land, with the Diamondbacks, Yankees, and Dodgers receiving votes. I'd imagine the Mets, Angels, Red Sox, and a handful of other teams would have some interest as well.

The Levinson Brothers, who negotiated Benoit's contract, also represent Balfour, and will likely be hunting for a similar offer. While I don't think they'll match the three years and $16.5MM that Benoit received from the Tigers, I expect Balfour to land a two-year, eight-figure deal.

Leave a Reply

11 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: Grant Balfour"

4 years 9 months ago

I would love to see him sign on the north side..we need to revamp our bullpen and depending on who else we sign this off season his type A really won’t affect us that much. Him and Marshall working the 8th setting up for marmol would be PERFECT…get it done Hendry

4 years 9 months ago

Type A compensation is a lot for an inconsistent (year-to-year) reliever.

4 years 9 months ago

I wouldn’t mind seeing him sign with the Rangers.

4 years 9 months ago

I think he accepts arbitration if offered. Teams will not give up draft pick for Grant Balfour.

4 years 9 months ago

I think you’re right. I know I wouldn’t give a draft pick up for a guy who was born to walk batters.

4 years 9 months ago

“Though the 33-year-old doesn’t have a history of health problems”Actually he does, the Twins liked his arm but he spent significant portions of the 2004-06 seasons on the DL. Thus, combined with his at times erratic control, they cut him loose.

4 years 9 months ago

If the Rays offer him arbitration, he better accept it. With the premium placed on draft picks, the talent of a guy like Balfour is not worth a draft pick when *most* teams are finally realizing that relievers aren’t worth as much as people used to think.

4 years 9 months ago

Very hard to give up draft choices – great year for draft

4 years 9 months ago

Balfour illustrates the point of how most reliever’s performance can vary wildly from year to year. His 2008 and 2010 were excellent but in-between he had a very bad 2009.

Even so, based on his three year averages, Balfour should get a lot of attention from any team looking to strengthen their bullpen.

4 years 8 months ago

now that the Halos have signed Downs, does that mean Balfour is more likely to go to the Red Sox?

4 years 9 months ago

I’m pretty sure my comment did not warrant a personal attack.