Grant Balfour will be pitching in the American League East after all.
And he’ll have up to 19 chances in 2014 to show a little “Balfour Rage” against the Orioles, the team that spiked a free-agent deal with him in December.
The 36-year-old Australian right-hander signed a two-year deal Thursday with the Tampa Bay Rays, one of his former teams, that is reportedly worth $12 million total.
Balfour had converted 62 of 67 save opportunities since becoming the Oakland Athletics' full-time closer in 2012. He was one of the Orioles’ primary free-agent targets and agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal, pending a physical, with the Orioles last month.
But the Orioles pulled out of the deal citing concerns with his physical -- specifically, sources said, with his right shoulder.
During that time, two doctors from other teams refuted the Orioles’ claims, saying Balfour’s exams looked fine. One of those doctors was the Rays’ team physician.
Now, Balfour will get a chance to play against the Orioles for the next two seasons. The clubs’ first matchup will be April 14-16 at Camden Yards.
Also in free-agent news, the Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly signed right-hander Matt Garza to a four-year, $52 million deal. Garza was considered the best starting pitcher remaining on the free-agent market. The Orioles were never a true competitor for his services.
It is expected that the free-agent market will speed up now that Masahiro Tanaka signed with the New York Yankees on Wednesday.