Grant Balfour
Grant Balfour
42-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2020 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for Grant Balfour in 2020. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Signed minor league deal with the Rays in May 2015.
PFree Agent  
May 27, 2015
Balfour was released by the Rays on Wednesday after opting out of his minor league contract, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Balfour posted a 2.79 ERA in eight appearances with Triple-A Durham after rejoining the Rays in early May, but it appears he was not optimistic about being called up anytime soon. Balfour is 37 years old and has not had much big league success since 2013, so his next step is uncertain.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy Oy Oy vey what a horrible year for the closer. After a strong run in Oakland, Balfour came back to Tampa Bay after he failed a routine physical in Baltimore earlier in the offseason. The team medical staff compared the results to the last time Balfour was with Tampa Bay and said he was all set to go. In theory, he was. In reality, he was awful. While he held batters to a .217 average, he struggled with velocity and command for most of the season. The 21% strikeout rate and just three home runs allowed were the pluses, but he gave up 41 free passes and no high-leverage reliever can survive putting men on base in that fashion. His salary dictates that he will be back with the club unless the Rays find a way to unload his contract elsewhere to cut payroll.
Balfour had an exceptional 2013 season as the A's closer, converting 92.7 percent of his save opportunities, aided by his 28 consecutive saves to begin the campaign. Aside from a brief stretch in August where he struggled, Balfour was a rock at the back end of the A's bullpen. Balfour's strikeout rate took a nice bump up in 2013 from 8.7 K/9 to 10.3 K/9, but his H/9 and BB/9 also went up. Balfour is entering his age-36 season, but he has shown no signs of slowing down and should be a solid second-tier closer as long as he's signed by a club intent on using him in the ninth inning. After signing a two-year deal with the Rays in January, Balfour appears to be on track to close out games in a strong Tampa Bay bullpen.
Balfour was tabbed as the A's closer going into the season, but hiccuped early and relinquished the role to rookie Ryan Cook. He returned to his role at the end of games on August 11 and sprinted away with the job. He was 17-for-17 in save opportunities in August and September, including appearances in each of the A's last five games as they stole the division title from Texas. Balfour is very popular with the A's fans due to his unbridled intensity and figures to be the guy closing games come Opening Day. The A's tend to flip closers if they can get value for them, but in exercising their $4.5 option on Balfour in November, it appears he will be the guy in 2013. He is a nice option to target after the first wave of closers go off the board.
Balfour continued his run as one of the better setup men in baseball, allowing just 44 hits and 20 walks in 62.0 innings to go with 59 strikeouts. He got a brief look as the A's closer prior to Andrew Bailey's late-May return on the heels of a few poor outings by Brian Fuentes, and appears to be the favorite for the role with Andrew Bailey's trade to Boston. Keep in mind, however, that his 2.47 ERA was driven largely by an 89 percent strand rate and a fortunate .232 BABIP, so his 3.57 xFIP is probably a better indicator of what you can expect from him in that category in 2012.
Balfour bounced back last season after a dismal 2009, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 1.084 WHIP. The key to his success was the Rays' ability to limit his outings, something they neglected during 2009 when he made a career-high 73 appearances. He's a solid reliever and will post good peripheral numbers in a setup role for Oakland this season. He's never been considered closer material despite having solid stuff so draft him only based on those strong peripheral numbers.
Balfour regressed last season from his remarkable 2008 campaign, pitching his way to a 4.61 ERA. His strikeout rate declined (12.6 K/9IP in 2008 to 9.2 K/9IP in 2009) with a heavier workload possibly being the culprit (22 more appearances last year than 2008). Entering the season, Balfour will likely be among the leading candidates for saves if anything should happen to new closer Rafael Soriano, though manager Joe Maddon has preferred to use him in critical seventh- and eighth-inning situations in the past. If you need a middle reliever to count on for strikeouts, Balfour is your man.
It was a breakout year for Balfour, and if Troy Percival doesn't return as the Rays' closer for 2009, Balfour would be a prime candidate to pitch in the ninth inning for the Rays. The only concerns would be Balfour's so-so postseason numbers in 2008 (six runs allowed, 19 baserunners in just 8.2 innings, seven strikeouts), and how quickly Balfour can be ready for Opening Day if he winds up as the closer for Australia at the World Baseball Classic.
Balfour actually had a streak in August and September where he gave up just one run in 12 outings (18 strikeouts in 13.1 innings), and the Rays will hope that hot streak is more indicative of Balfour's talent than his finish (11 runs allowed in five innings over his final seven outings). The Rays will pencil Balfour in as part of their set-up crew going into the spring.
Balfour spent all of the 2006 season rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder, pitching only nine innings in the minors last year. The Brewers claimed him off waivers in October, with the hope of reclaiming his once vast potential in the bullpen. There's no need to commit a roster spot to him in March, but watch from afar.
Balfour missed the entire 2005 season after Tommy John surgery and then later during his comeback he had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and torn labrum. Balfour showed promise in 2004 with a fastball that could top 95-mph while displaying outstanding control, but has struggled with injury issues throughout his career. He'll likely spend most of 2006 working his way back to full strength, and his career at this point is in doubt.
Balfour overcame a slightly torn right labrum early in the 2004 season and made a strong impression in middle relief for the Twins. He especially opened eyes with a dominating performance in the playoffs where he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings and shut down the heart of the Yankees order late in a Game 4 first-round loss. With a fastball that can sometimes top 95-mph, Balfour strikes out more than a batter per inning with decent command (42/21 K/BB ratio). He could compete for the fifth starter job but more likely will return to middle relief. He has the kind of skill set that could pay big fantasy dividends if he falls into the right opportunity.
Balfour enters the spring as one of the leading candidates for the fifth starter's job with the Twins. After spending three years in the bullpen, Balfour flourished when moved into the rotation at Triple-A Rochester. He pitched well out of the bullpen in the majors, but struggled in his one start. If he keeps up the kind of command he showed at Rochester, he could be a nice sleeper.
Balfour was once labeled as the closer of the future for the Twins, but suddenly there is a line of talent ahead of him. He moved up to Triple-A Edmonton last season and held his own. Could get called up at some point this season, but will more likely compete for a bullpen spot in 2004.
More Fantasy News
PTampa Bay Rays  
May 1, 2015
Balfour re-signed with the Rays on a minor league deal, the Tampa Tribune's R. Mooney reports.
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Grant Balfour: Released By Tampa Bay
PTampa Bay Rays  
April 29, 2015
Balfour was released by Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
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Grant Balfour: Designated for Assignment
PTampa Bay Rays  
April 18, 2015
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PTampa Bay Rays  
March 25, 2015
Balfour (personal) made his first appearance of the spring Monday, allowing one earned run on a home run but working a clean inning otherwise.
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PTampa Bay Rays  
March 19, 2015
Balfour (personal) is expected to throw live batting practice Friday, Steve Carney of 620 WDAE reports.
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