Last month, it appeared that free-agent closer Grant Balfour would be replacing the guy the Oakland Athletics got to replace him.
After the A’s acquired closer Jim Johnson in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles, Balfour had reached an agreement for a two-year, $15 million deal to close for the O’s. But Baltimore balked on the deal after they saw the results of his physical.
On Thursday, ESPN.com reported that Balfour has agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract to return to the Tampa Bay Rays, where he worked as a setup man from 2007-10 before signing with Oakland.
Balfour had a 2.59 ERA and 1.197 WHIP with 38 saves in 65 appearances for the A’s in 2013 and was also named to his first All-Star team. He saved 62 games over the last two seasons.
With Tampa Bay, he is expected to replace closer Fernando Rodney, who is still unsigned.
In parts of four seasons with the Rays, Balfour had a 3.33 ERA and 1.212 WHIP in 203 appearances and 203 innings, with 234 strikeouts. He had a 1.54 ERA and 0.891 WHIP in 58.1 innings for the Rays’ 2008 American League pennant winning squad.
Given that the 36-year-old Balfour—known for the Balfour Rage—can be somewhat intense on the mound, it should make those 19 matchups between the Rays and Baltimore more interesting in 2014.