Blue Jays Bullpen: Is Grant Balfour an Option?


The Toronto Blue Jays have been experiencing some bullpen “issues” of late. This has some ready to make some drastic changes like moving Aaron Sanchez to the ‘pen (since his starting experiment hasn’t gone the way some had hoped). Others (like me) are wondering why Steve Delabar hasn’t been called up. There have also suggestions that the club go after free agent Rafael Soriano or, gulp, trade for Jonathan Papelbon.

But, the Tampa Bay Rays made a move today that might intrigue Blue Jays fans. They released the intense Australian reliever, Grant Balfour. According to (via Darren Wolfson at 1500 ESPN), Balfour was designated for assignment last week thus exposing him to waivers. And, not a single team claimed him. Now, as pointed out by MLBTR, any team that wants to sign him to, say a minor league deal, will only need to pay the prorated portion of the league minimum for time he spends on the big league roster.

So, if the Blue Jays were so inclined, they could sign him to a MiLB deal and send him to AAA. Then, if they were to call him up, they’d only need to pay a portion of a minimal salary for the time he is up. This sounds like a great deal.

But, is it? Could Grant Balfour actually help the Blue Jays?

He his the owner of 24, 38 and 12 save seasons. And, he has 107 career holds. He’s got the experience, albeit not lengthy. His career K/9 sits at 9.52 with a K % of 25.5 and a BB% of 11.2 and has a career xFIP of 3.86. These are fairly enticing numbers.* Especially when you consider what has plagued the Blue Jays bullpen of late.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

But, we shouldn’t be rushing out to get Balfour jerseys just yet. Since 2013, he’s seen his BB% nearly double. His K% has decreased to ZERO this season. Granted, this season only saw him in 6 games. As well, his HR/9 number has gone up to 2.08. This is an area where traditionally, he’s had some success. And, that is just it. Balfour has been steadily declining (with his velocity) over the last few seasons. At 37 yrs old, he has not lived up to the $7M the Rays have to pay him for this season.

The question is whether the Blue Jays see him as a viable option. He’s certainly cheap enough. Is he worth a minor league deal? There are some who think that there is no such thing as a bad minor league deal. Would this be one be included? We should point out that Wolfson (who originally reported the release) checked to see if the Twins were a landing spot, but found out that Balfour will sign somewhere else. So, he WILL be working again. Could it be in Toronto?

The fact that we are looking at MiLB deals actually opens up more questions. The first of which is “Why isn’t Steve Delabar up form AAA?” He’s having success down there and the big league ‘pen could use him. Whatever issues caused him to be demoted (which were a bit of a mystery at the time) do not seem to be showing themselves in the early goings of 2015. As well, some are still calling for the signing of Rafael Soriano or even trading for Papelbon.

IF we’re considering desperate moves, maybe a flier on a minor league deal on Grant Balfour fits the mold. Have your say in our poll below.

*Stats via

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