Former Rays closer Grant Balfour has opted out of his minor league contract with the team and received his release, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter links). It’s not yet clear whether Balfour will look to catch on with another club.
The veteran righty had re-signed with Tampa Bay after being released from his major league deal earlier in the season. He was already owed the remainder of a $7MM salary on the year, which will not change with the move. At most, the Rays could receive an offset of a prorated portion of the league minimum salary if Balfour spends time at the major league level with another team.
Balfour had a long run of success before returning to to the Rays before the 2014 season, but things have never clicked in his second stint with the club. Over 66 2/3 total MLB innings across the last two years, he has allowed an even five earned runs per nine with 7.7 K/9 against 6.1 BB/9. Plummeting average fastball readings surely played a significant role, as Balfour dropped below 90 mph for the first time in his career this season.
Since re-joining the organization, Balfour sported a quality 2.79 ERA over 9 2/3 innings at Triple-A Durham. Even better, he’s done so by generating 11 strikeouts against just four walks. While those numbers obviously show much more promise than his work at the big league level, Topkin says it was clear that he was not likely to receive another shot at the team’s MLB pen.