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MLB Free Agency: New York Yankees interested in Grant Balfour

As the Baltimore Orioles and Grant Balfour move on from their dissolved agreement this off-season, each stands to lose something. The Orioles might be losing a certain measure of credibility with future free agents thanks to the odd circumstances in which they backed out of this deal. As for Balfour, well, he might not be able to find another match for a team that wants to him to close games.

That would be the problem if he joined the New York Yankees, who reportedly have interest in Balfour. Kevin Kernan of the New York Post had the report this morning:

According to industry sources, the Yankees have shown some interest in closer Grant Balfour, whose two-year deal with the Orioles disintegrated. Balfour has converted 62 of 67 save opportunities the last two years.

That would give him a prominent role in the back of the bullpen for a contender, and as Craig Calcaterra of HardBall Talk points out, he would get to see a lot of Baltimore by pitching in their division. But he probably would not get the closer’s job, as the Yankees have seemingly been grooming David Robertson for that role. As Kernan notes:

The Yankees want to give David Robertson the shot to earn the closer’s role and Robertson told The Post on Saturday he is fully prepared to follow Mariano Rivera in the role. The Yankees bullpen has lost much, though, since last season and by adding Balfour they would have an experienced closer who lives for competition. Robertson also said if the team wants him to be an eighth-inning pitcher he will do that again.

That’s still not an ideal situation for Balfour, who would go from a place where he was unquestionably the closer to a place where he has to beat out a guy with nasty stuff for the role. This potential outcome for Balfour is just another reason that the ugliness of this situation won’t go away anytime soon.

Tags: Grant Balfour New York Yankees

  • Carla Jacobs

    the team that is smart enough to “pay the man”will be so much better for it. if balfour’s “rage” in 2014 is anything similar to the “balfour rage” he gifted the A’s with in 2013, that’s going to be one lucky and and thrilled organization and fan base! i’m sorry the A’s didn’t re-sign him. but it’s great they signed jim johnson

  • therza82

    I think it is fairly clear that Tanaka will not be posted. The Yankees have said they do not like the current market of starters in Garza, Santana, and Jimenez.

    This leaves the Yankees with a projected rotation of Sabathia, Kuroda, Nova, and probably Phelps and Pineda….I am sure they will sign a few guys from the bargain bin as well. Although, with Tanaka not being posted I think they may try to sign either Garza, Santana, or Jimenez. Garza, who started three years in Tampa has proven he can be a very solid pitcher that can more than handle thr rigors of the AL. He is only 30, so he would be a solid signing for the Yankees. Yes, he was somewhat a disappointment in Texas, however that was a relatively small sample size. Plus, it had nothing to do with any kind of physical decline by Garza. The velocity of his fastball averaged 93.1MPH in 2013, identical to his career average of 93.3 MPH.

    So, if the Yankees aren’t going to bolster their rotation, then they MUST have a strong bullpen. When Rivera went down in 2012, it of course hurt. However, the Yankees had Rafael Soriano to fall back on and they didn’t miss a beat. Soriano struck out 69 batters in 67 innings, surrending only 55 hits, posting a 2.26 ERA/1.17 WHIP with 43 saves versus 4 blown.

    I have faith in Robertson…He certainly has the stuff to be a closer. However, the velocity on his fastball has dipped from 93.1MPH in 2011, to 92.2MPH in 2012, to 91.7MPH last season. His K/9 has fallen from 13.50 in 2011 to 12.02 in 2012, to 10.45 last season. However, he has cut his BB% from 12.9 to 6.9%. Even then, he has earned the nickname Houdini for getting himself into jams, and then escaping them.

    No matter how good Robertson is next year, the fact remains that he will never be as good as Mo. The pressure of bring a closer in the MLB is already tough enough…Being one for a Yankees team with high expectations is tougher….Replacing the greatest ever at the position is a lot of pressure. The Yankees must have a backup plan and Balfour should probably be that guy. He is a veteran reliever was experience as closer and a set up guy. He has pitched at least 55 innings since 2008, with an average era of 2.46, and WHIP of 1.05.