Like so many other former Rays, Grant Balfour never wanted to leave -- but now he's back.
The 36-year old reliever returns to Tampa Bay, signing a two-year, $12-million contract.
Balfour was solid for the Rays before helping them to the World Series in 2008. He's spent the last three years in Oakland and returns home after an All-Star season in 2013.
"I'm just happy to be back and share my services with Tampa Bay and the rest of the team. To go along with all of the talent they have here to try to put together a championship team," he said.
The Sydney-born pitcher maintained a home in Clearwater, and is excited about coming back to a team that has the talent to make it back to the World Series and hopefully win it this time.
"They say it's one of the better teams that they've ever put on the field," said Balfour. "Obviously, each and every year you try to make the team better. So you would hope that each year the team would be a little better."
Joe Maddon has always waited for players in the past to step up and earn the role as 'Closer', but today Maddon handed the title to Balfour, three weeks before spring training.
"We're going to use the C (closer) word this year," Maddon said. "Balfour is the closer. No doubt there."
Signing Balfour has put the Rays over budget. Team owner Stewart Sternberg says the Rays payroll is more than they can afford, but felt they needed to make these recent moves because of the potential for a special season.
So after all of the offseason moves, does that mean that David Price is a lock to stay here the rest of the season?
"I expect him to be here," Sternberg said.
This month, the Rays have given out two of the three largest free agent contracts under Sternberg. Balfour's $12-million and James Loney's $21-million.
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