The Tampa Bay Rays have, somewhat shockingly, brought back former closer Grant Balfour on a two-year contract worth a reported $12 million. Balfour has been with the Athletics over the last three seasons, joining Oakland from the Rays, who he played for from the second half of the 2007 season to 2010.
The 36-year old Balfour reached a two-year, $15 million agreement with the Orioles earlier this offseason, but the deal was called off after Baltimore had issues with the results of Balfour's physical. The A's had already moved on from Balfour, acquiring Orioles closer Jim Johnson in exchange for Jemile Weeks.
Balfour thrived with Oakland, stepping into the closer's role in 2012 and never looking back. Over his three seasons with the club, Balfour posted a 2.53 ERA in 199 1/3 innings, striking out 203 and walking 75. Once he took over as the closer in 2012, Balfour saved 62 games while blowing just five.
Where will the reliever market go from here? Well, the Mets reportedly topped Tampa Bay's offer for Balfour, but were rebuffed. Fernando Rodney is still in play for now, but he's nearing a deal with Baltimore (assuming he doesn't fail his physical).
Rodney is the last capital-C closer on the market without significant flaws, so if another team wants a relief option, they're going to need to roll the dice on someone like Andrew Bailey, Kevin Gregg, Joel Hanrahan, Brandon Lyon, Ryan Madson, Carlos Marmol, Francisco Rodriguez, or Jose Valverde. Man, Rodney's looking pretty good right about now, huh?