With Grant Balfour slotted into the ninth inning on a ridiculously team-friendly deal, Tampa Bay looks like a serious contender in the AL East. And even though they typically come out on top in the trade market, winning games is still the ultimate goal.
Balfour became available when his two-year, $15 million deal with the Orioles fell apart after the 36-year-old closer failed his team physical. He took issue with their evaluation, responding with a clean bill of health from the Rays' medical staff. Balfour can still file a grievance against the Orioles with the Players Association, but he declined to comment on the matter at the an introductory press conference.
Tampa Bay was able to reel him in for just $12 million over two years. Since Balfour will only take up $5 million in cap room this season -- $7 million in 2015 -- the team could decide David Price's immediate value is more important than the future value he can offer them in a potential trade.
General manager Andrew Friedman has expressed concerns about the team's projected $72.8 million payroll, so the team could still look to move Price to get their budget to a more acceptable figure. Price is set to earn $14 million next season thanks to the one-year deal the two sides came to in order to avoid arbitration.
Any trade involving Price would have to be a "Herschel Walker"-type return for Tampa Bay. It seems unlikely at this point that they will find a package they will value more than what Price brings to a contending Rays team for the upcoming season.