Bullpen option off the board: Balfour goes back to Tampa

Thursday Night Open Thread
Mailbag: K-Rod, Ichiro, Villarreal, Fifth Starter

About a month after his deal with the Orioles fell apart, Grant Balfour has hooked on with the Rays. He’s returning to Tampa on a two-year contract worth $12M, so the whole failed physical fiasco only cost him $3M total. The Mets reportedly offered the same contract, but Balfour preferred returning home to Florida. Guessing the same would have held true if it was the Yankees.

The Yankees had renewed interest in Balfour after his deal with the O’s fell through but they were never seriously involved as far as we know. The relief corps behind David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, and Matt Thornton is pretty unsettled, and right now it looks like there will be a massive bullpen competition in Spring Training. They’re going to be asking some kids to shoulder quite a bit of responsibility at the outset of the season.

Thursday Night Open Thread
Mailbag: K-Rod, Ichiro, Villarreal, Fifth Starter
  • Derbs

    I know this sounds crazy but I’m kind of excited because this will give a chance for the younger guys like Betances a legitimate shot on sticking in the bullpen and not once every 15 days like Girardi was using them last year.

    • The Great Gonzo

      While I do not disagree that this will open doors that did not exist before for Yankee pitchers, the obvious counterpoint: live by the cheap young bullpen, die by the cheap young bullpen.

      I an an advocate of piecing together a bullpen with young rubber arms, but goddam… one more anchor would be really really awesome. Just one more. Give me ANYONE that’s got some major league saves on their baseball card, just for shits…

  • Pt

    With the bullpen situation as it is, risky move leaving kahnle exposed?

  • BillyBall

    Kind of stinks that we have just 1 guy in mlb top 50 prospects. I really feel the injuries have hurt our minor league system and we would have more players in top 5.
    The Yankees need to put even more emphasis on draft and development because that is the future. The red six are eating this shit up. They have a top 3 prospect and like 6 guys in top 50. Fuck that.

    • Dave M

      Yeah, the injuries hurt for sure. I believe Heathcot would be in the top 50 if he can stay on the field. I actually think he’d have a good shot of being in the majors by now if he’d been healthy.

      But the Yanks need to draft better and do a better job of developing the guys they do draft.

    • D23

      Painfully to say Red Sox have done a superb job with the draft but luck has something to do with it too. Hopefully this is the year that Ty, Clarkin, Jageilo, Judge, Williams, and Sanchez shine for us. If have of them shines, it will be taste better.

    • RetroRob

      We have two. They just refused to recognize Tanaka as a prospect, even though he may end up winning Rookie of the Year in 2014!

      As for it overall, yeah, it was a bad year for the system. Players we had trending up last year fell off. The beauty of baseball is a year from now that can all change again. Yet you have to give teams like the Red Sox and the Rangers credit. They’ve had winning teams for years yet they’ve been able to draft and develop players having an impact, or will soon have an impact. Yankee fans are going to “enjoy” watching Boegarts for the next 15 years as the Red Sox fans have had to watch Jeter since the ’90s.

      • Deuces Wild

        Did you really just compare bogarts to jeter? Chill bro he won’t live up to be half of jeter

        • RetroRob

          Not predicting the HOF. Predicting he will be hell of a player. Ignore it if you like, but you will not be able to ignore the Red Sox SS.

          • TWTR

            The Jeter comparison aside, they are badly beating the Yankees in drafting/development, and that has to end.

            • RetroRob

              Yup, and that was my point. They’ve done a very good job despite, like the Yankees, having very good records restricting where they draft.

  • Farewell Mo

    They could always acquire a reliever mid season I just hate to give up a asset to get one. I hope they sign Rodney or at least Ayala.

  • slingblade

    Good to be realistic.
    But good to be optimistic, too.

    Dellin Betances has the potential to be a bullpen monster. Truth be told, when he throws strikes, nobody hits him. Cesar Cabral has excellent potential, too.
    Imagine that both of those guys deliver in 2014.
    Warren showed himself to be a good utility pitcher last year.
    Nuno looks to bring the same kind of skill set from the LH side.
    They’ve got Jose Ramirez on the brink, too.

    The Yanks’ bullpen could surprise and turn out to be a real strength in 2014. Stranger things have happened.

    • TWTR

      It would be beyond great if Betances finally pays dividends.

  • Michael

    Kenta Maeda: The next big NPB export now that Tanaka has signed?
    By Dayn Perry

    • OldYanksFan

      OK OK OK…..
      6/$70m (+ $20m) oughta do it.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Sign all the Japanese!!!!!

      • Kosmo

        I´d definitely be in on Maeda. In the video Michael posted Maeda was sitting 89-93 with his fastball and showed a very good curveball and what I took to be an OK slider.

        • Rick

          Are you our resident scout?

          • Kosmo

            have you watched the video? Maeda looks like the real deal IMHO.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            He’s willing to work for free, and is as reliable as Don Wakamatsu. Yes.

  • OldYanksFan

    So… what’s the max contract you offer Drew? 3/$39m?

    • Freddy Sez Spend $260 Million

      Honestly? 4 and 60. It’s not my money, they have it, and they need a real shortstop, not just in 2014 but for the next few years, at least. Drew is a solid 2-3 WAR guy each year. He’s above average with the glove, and well-above average with the bat.

      And next year, the only possible fits are Lowrie – who’s had just as many problems with injuries – and Hanley – who will get big money and likely from the Dodgers.

      Asdrubal Cabrera is interesting – but he just put up a stinker of a year – on both sides of the ball. He might be a change of scenery guy or he might be declining fast. And of course, that’s why the Yankees will sign him.

      Otherwise, there’s a whole lot of nothing available. Best to lock up Drew, get value from him in 2014 and have him around to move around.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner


      Average guy playing out of position. Only really looks good because the other chick at the bar has a hairy eyeball

      • The Great Gonzo

        I was thinking about that. Maybe 18M. Let him audition for SS next season, maybe he doesn’t embarrass himself.

        I, for one, have been calling the Stephen Drew signing inevitable since September… so seriously the should just fuck and get it over with.

    • Kosmo

      I think fangraphs has Drew @3/33. So 3/39 is probably close to the mark.
      Drew hasn´t played a full season in 3 years and struggles vs. LHP.

      Cabrera a switch hitter hits well from both sides of the plate, will be 29 in 2015. He´s younger than Drew. This season will go a long way in determining what Cabrera will earn in 2015.

    • Grit for Brains

      Has anyone exceeded 2/20?….Don’t see a team that has or will so I think that could get it done and the Yanks should be all over that.

  • John

    Look out for Mark Montgomery

  • John R

    I think I would rather have Balfour over Thornton for similar money….

  • John R

    I think if rather have Balfour than Thorton for similar contracts…..

    • Freddy Sez Spend $260 Million

      This! 100 times over!

      Balfour has actually been better against lefties each of the last two years. And against righties, it’s not contest.

      Balfour is a legit setup guy. Thorton is a LOOGY now.

      So, so, dumb. The epitome of penny wise, pound foolish.

    • TWTR

      They aren’t similar contracts. Balfour is getting $12m; Thorton is getting $7m.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Numbers mean nothing when it’s not their money.

        • The Great Gonzo

          Similar contracts, as in they both signed contracts that were printed on paper.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      If by similar, you mean not at all similar, then yes.

  • John R

    Balfour or Thorton for that similar money???

  • Freddy Sez Spend $260 Million

    Shawn Kelly was replacement level in 2013. He’s our setup guy?

    They’ve doled our $500M in contracts this off-season, but they couldn’t add Balfour for another $6M/year?

    It makes no sense. This is a VERY top heavy club. And with them right on the brink of contention, any injuries will absolutely decimate this club. God forbid Robertson gets hurt.

    They’re paying Ichiro more than the Rays are paying Balfour! Eric O’Flaherty got $7M over two and he would have been an excellent mid-season pickup.

    At least this place is past the Tanaka euphoria. They spend on this money and this team will cough up big runs late. And that’s without the 5th starter pulling a Hughes every five days.


    • mitch

      You can’t just say they could have had Balfour for 6 mil. It’s a two way street. He can close in Tampa and he’s played there before.

      I love how people just assume the Yankees could have had any free agent for the contract they signed with another team.

      • Kosmo

        or that NY is incapable of making a trade to fill a bullpen hole.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        You can absolutely say it when you’re a screen name never seen before only having negative things to say about the team who will probably never be heard from again by Monday, only to be replaced by a new screen name with a similar schtick. :)

  • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

    I’m honestly a little surprised by the amount of wailing about the bullpen by some posters on here. Yeah, it’d be nice if they could grab another proven guy but I’m not losing sleep over Grant Balfour. To listen to some here he was the difference between a WS championship and a last place AL East finish.

    Bullpens have a way of working themselves out. If the Yanks don’t add anyone before ST I’m fine with a big internal competition with the potential to sign some other teams’ cuts. I’m more worried about another infielder than the bullpen right now.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      Bullpens have a way of working themselves out.

      Except for on the teams that have playoff chances torpedoed by bad bullpens.
      They managed only about an average bullpen last season with Mo.
      The Yankees aren’t strong enough all around to needlessly field weak areas.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Oh, there will be scrap heap pickups. This year, like every other.

      That said, like I said above, give me just one more anchor please.

      • Kosmo

        Putz has 1 year remaining @ 7 million and was rumoured a while ago to be available. D-Backs might be willing to eat a portion of his contract.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          And I’d be perfectly fine with that occurring.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Balfour’s a known name. A lot of fans don’t know a world where Mariano Rivera isn’t closing games. The team’s spent a lot of money, so some fans now expect them to spend everywhere. It’s the perfect storm of a few things.

      Balfour would have been a good pickup, but he was clearly looking for a closing gig and the medicals debacle made overpaying to keep him happy in the 8th a dicey proposition. I do, however, think they should be looking at another reliable vet to mitigate some of the risk across the board in the bullpen. If Shawn Kelley can’t take that next step, the road to DRob goes south quickly.