Grant Balfour was signed today by the
Baltimore Orioles Tampa Bay Rays for 2 years and $12 million. This got me wondering: why didn’t the A’s stick with the fan-favorite Balfour and save money? Was it simply his health and his age, or were there bigger issues?
Earlier this offseason, the A’s acquired Jim Johnson from the Orioles to be their closer. At the time, it seemed like the two closers would make similar amounts this coming season, so why not try something new? Now with Balfour making $4 million less than Johnson’s projected $10 arbitration salary, it begs the question: what was really going on between the A’s and Balfour?
After the A’s were eliminated by the Tigers in the ALDS for the second consecutive year, Balfour said, in reference to his impending free-agency something to the effect of, “I just want to go somewhere I can win a World Series.” When I saw this, I knew he was gone.
One could read in to this that Balfour doesn’t follow the mantra, ‘In Beane we trust.’ If this is the case, the A’s may have wanted to rid themselves of the bad vibes from a fun-loving, young clubhouse.
There was also the shouting match Balfour had with Victor Martinez in game 3 of the ALDS, which seemed to fire-up Martinez, who had been dormant until that point. He went 4 for 5 in both games 4 and 5. Without him clicking, the Tigers were having a hard time scoring runs. Prince Fielder is lackluster against A’s pitching, Miguel Cabrera only had one leg and Martinez was non-existent. Not after Balfour enRAGED him.
If this is the case, and A’s management didn’t want a repeat of Balfour’s intensity firing up the other team, then the exact competitive spirit that made him a fan favorite, was also what saw him leave Oakland.
Balfour could have also had injuries that were catching up with him. He had a deal in place with Baltimore earlier in the offseason, but failed the physical, and the Orioles negated their offer.
I like Grant Balfour. I have raged many times, including game 162 in 2012. While this is all speculation, maybe there is some truth in the margins.