After his 2-year, $15 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles fell through for what team doctors described as concerns with results of his physical, relief pitcher Grant Balfour is back on the board and the New York Yankees are “showing some interest” in the soon-to-be 36-year-old, sources told the NY Post’s Kevin Kernan.
The Yankees signed Matt Thornton last week to be the team’s lefty specialist, and still need to add at least one more arm for the bullpen. With the cloud of uncertainty around David Robertson and whether they believe he can follow up Mariano Rivera and close next season, adding a closer hasn’t been out of the question this winter.
Personally, I think that Robertson is capable of being the closer, and has earned the right to be the first choice next season, but bringing in someone experienced like Balfour isn’t the worst idea — although it might not help Robertson’s confidence.
Obviously with Balfour, you have to wonder if something might actually be wrong with him like the Orioles say there is, even though multiple doctors have confirmed that Balfour is fine, and there is nothing wrong with his shoulder.
Balfour saved 38 games for the Oakland Athletics last season while posting an ERA of 2.59. Health has not been an issue in his career, as he has pitched at least 55 innings in each of the past six seasons.
It’ll be very interesting to see if the Yankees — or even the Tampa Bay Rays, who are said to be in on him too — can get a deal done with Balfour, because you know the first time he gets a save in Baltimore will be quite the show to watch, with him being as emotional as he is.
However, even if the Yankees are interested, they might be waiting to see what happens with Masahiro Tanaka and Alex Rodriguez. If Tanaka isn’t posted, then the Yankees might take some of the money they could have used on him and instead, use it towards adding a late-inning reliever like Balfour.