Balfour thanks Rays, looks forward to A's
Reliever Grant Balfour thanked the Rays for the opportunity they provided him and said he would have welcomed the chance to stay longer, but was determined to get a multi-year deal, which he received from Oakland.
"I appreciate the opportunity the Rays gave me,'' Balfour said Tuesday. "I enjoyed my time there and made a lot of friends. I really appreciate the chance I was given to pitch there. To go from a team in the cellar and do what we did over the last three years, win two AL East titles, I just thought it was awesome.''
Balfour's deal with the A's, announced Tuesday, guarantees him $8.1-million over two years and includes a 2013 option. There was some talk of returning to the Rays on a one-year deal, but he said he never got that close to an agreement as he waited to see what other offers came about, and he was quite pleased to end up with the A's.
"If the Rays had come off (not offering) a multi-year deal, we would have gotten a lot closer,'' Balfour said. "I enjoyed my time there and if the opportunity was there to stay longer, I would have. But the A's gave me a nice deal and I'm looking forward to going out there and continuing to pitch well.''
Balfour said he thinks the Rays still have the makings of a good team, but had they retained the bulk of their free agents (11 have left thus far), they had a chance to be special. "If they'd kept them together I think it would have been a team not only with a really good shot to win the AL East again but to advance to the World Series,'' he said.