October 4, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Grant Balfour (50) walks to the field before game one of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at O.co Coliseum. The Tigers defeated Athletics 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rays and Grant Balfour defer part of salary for flexibility

It’s been well documented that The Tampa Bay Rays have one of the smallest payrolls in baseball, despite being one of the better teams of the last few years.

The Rays were able to avoid arbitration with their ace, David Price, to the tune of $14 million for 2014, but nobody expects any kind of long term deal to come of it that the team can afford. Signing Evan Longoria to a six-year extension at $100 million to keep him through 2022 is without a doubt a bargain, especially for the Rays. They tend to rely more on homegrown talent (like Longoria and Price) and trading them away before their value goes over their budget rather than make a big free-agent signing.

This year, Tampa Bay’s big free agent signing was that of closer Grant Balfour. The Australian right hander, who had a 2-year, $15 million offer from the Orioles revoked due to medical issues they found, signed with Andrew Friedman and company for a lower rate than he was originally offered by Baltimore. Even at 2-years and $12 million, the club had to get creative, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Balfour and the Rays got creative to make his two-year, $12 million deal work, with a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $4 million and $7 million, with $2 million each year deferred with no interest for two years.

Balfour, however, has gone on record to say that he is happy having signed with Tampa Bay, where he pitched for three and a half years before going to Oakland. Not only did their medical staff give him the OK to pitch, but he also makes his home in Clearwater.

Tags: Tampa Bay Rays