Longtime MLB reliever Grant Balfour has officially wrapped up his 12-year MLB career, he tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Balfour, 38, last pitched briefly in early 2015 with the Rays.
Last we checked in, Balfour expressed interest in continuing to pitch. Of course, that was at the end of May of 2015, and he hasn’t appeared in the majors since being cut loose by Tampa Bay. The veteran tells Topkin that he mulled a return this spring, but decided not to look for a spring invite after beginning to throw.
“It was honestly a great ride, meeting a lot of people and developing friendships along the way,” said the Australian native. “I now look forward to sitting home and being a spectator and be able to spend more time with my family.”
Balfour took some time establishing himself in the majors, but had a nice run of success once he did. Between 2008 and 2013, Balfour run up 380 1/3 innings of 2.74 ERA pitching with 9.7 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9. That made him one of the most reliable pen arms in baseball; eventually, Balfour would take over the Athletics’ closer role, picking up 62 saves in the final two years of that solid stretch of pitching.
After wrapping up a strong three-year run in Oakland, Balfour returned to the Rays after a deal with the division-rival Orioles fell apart over his physical. That represented a homecoming for the reliever, who had finally locked down a steady MLB job in Tampa Bay after prior stints with the Twins and Brewers.
Unfortunately, Balfour didn’t make good on his two-year contract, with age, velocity decline, and control issues telling in the results. Balfour ended 2014 with a 4.91 ERA in 62 1/3 frames, and was removed from the roster just six appearances into 2015 after failing to record strikeout and allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings. He signed a minor league deal to stay with the Rays organization, and ultimately made eight Triple-A appearances, but didn’t experience enough improvement to make it back to the bigs.
MLBTR congratulates Balfour on his career and wishes him the best in his future endeavors.