Nationals Interested in Balfour
Free agent closer Grant Balfour may have finally found a home with the Washington Nationals — or at least they have expressed their interest, according to a source at MLB.com. Balfour was an All-Star closer for the Oakland Athletics last season. Unfortunately for Balfour, the Nationals have had their closer,Rafael Soriano, signed to a two-year, $28-million contract since January 2013. If Balfour ultimately makes a deal with Washington, he would have to pitch in the set-up role.
After leaving the A’s via free-agency this off-season, both Balfour and the Baltimore Orioles expected him to be their new closer. But after a physical on Balfour, the Orioles rescinded their offer of $15 million for two years because of issues with his wrist and knees, though it was first reported that it may have been his throwing shoulder. Balfour was unhappy about this and voiced his opinion to the media. He made a statement to The San Francisco Chronicles’ Susan Slusser who tweeted,
Balfour told me he told (Orioles’ executive vice president Dan) Duquette that he deserves to be treated w/ respect and he was not & #Orioles just lost their best chance at winning.
He is also quoted by Slusser as saying,
I am 100 percent fine. I am the All-Star pitcher I was last season. My shoulder is fine. Everything’s fine. I’m ready to come out there in the ninth inning, do what I do.
Last season with the Athletics, Balfour, 36, acquired 38 saves in 65 games and posted a 2.59 ERA. He also beat Oakland’s record, previously held by Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley, for consecutive saves.
As of today, the Nationals’ roster is at the 40-man limit, so if they were to sign Balfour, someone would have to be traded or designated for assignment. According to a baseball source that could be reliever,Drew Storen. Storen struggled towards the end of the 2012 season for Washington and in the National League Division Series that year. He lost his job as closer in 2013 when Soriano was signed. During the 2013 season, his struggles continued to mount and he was eventually sent back to Triple-A Syracuse but did finish the season with the Nationals.
As the Nationals are in the process of fine tuning their roster before Spring Training and Grant Balfour is still available and looking for a place to play in 2014, this might just be the right match.
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Overbay Inks Minor League Deal with Brewers
Even quite a few other options available to play first base in 2014, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Lyle Overbay to a minor-league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. The signing was announced on Twitter earlier today by the team’s official account.
This comes as a bit of a shock as just last week they also signed Mark Reynolds to a minor league contract complete with an invite. Not to mention the fact that there will be three other players, Juan Francisco, Sean Halton and Hunter Morris, also competing for a spot at the big league level.
Overbay, 36, has played with a number of teams in his career including the Brewers. In his two seasons with Milwaukee, Overbay hit.289 with 35 homers and 87 doubles, setting a club record in his first year with 53 doubles. He spent last season with the New York Yankees appearing in 142 games and hitting .240 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI.
After first breaking into the majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Overbay was traded to the Brewers in 2003 and became their starting first baseman in 2004 and 2005. He was then traded to the Toronto Blue Jays where he spent five seasons after which he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent in 2010. Since then he has played with the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox and the Yankees and has been released three times.
OverBay, who turns 37 this week, has played in 1,446 games over his thirteen-year career hitting .267 with 342 doubles, 147 home runs and 640 RBI.
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