Rays sign Grant Balfour to two-year, $12 million deal

Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

After an eventful offseason, Balfour will return to Tampa Bay.

The Tampa Bay Rays have come to terms with on a two-year, $12 million deal with free agent closer Grant Balfour, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa bay Times.

Balfour nearly signed with the Orioles earlier this winter, but the deal disintegrated after the 36-year-old failed his physical to complete the two-year, $15 million deal.

Balfour took issue with the reports, opting to provide his own medicals that he received from Tampa Bay team doctors. It was originally believed that the Orioles found something wrong with Balfour's shoulder, but the most recent reports indicate their concerns arose because of issues with Balfour's wrist and knee.

The Rays appear to view Balfour's failed physical with Baltimore as a nonissue. He's likely to replace the departing Fernando Rodney as he returns to Tampa Bay, where he pitched for four years before heading to Oakland.

At $12 million, the Rays have landed one of the market's best relievers at a substantial discount. Balfour has dealt with injuries in the past, and he's pushing 40, but Tampa Bay is only risking $6 million a year on the deal, and their medical staff has already given him a clean bill of health.

Balfour reportedly had a better offer from the Mets but preferred to be nearer to his home in Clearwater, Florida (per Ken Rosenthal). The Mets subsequently denied that report.

When healthy, Balfour is a dominant closer. Over the last two seasons, Balfour has emerged as one of the most reliable closers in baseball, converting 62 of 67 save opportunities with a 2.56 ERA in 137⅓ innings.

More from SB Nation MLB:

• Masahiro Tanaka signs with the YankeesWhat's Plan B?

• Goldman: One man can make a difference ... but will Tanaka?

• Will the Braves be forced to trade their closer?

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• 2014 MLB salary arbitration tracker

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