Grant Balfour surprisingly declines Rays’ arbitration offer

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Tonight is the deadline for potential free agents to either accept or decline arbitration offers.  There won’t be many surprises, but we’ll keep tabs on the more shocking decisions.

Here’s one.

According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, right-hander Grant Balfour has decided to decline the Rays’ offer of arbitration and will test the free agent market instead.

He’s a Type A free agent and will cost any team that signs him a first round draft pick, but Balfour is probably hoping that the stellar 2.28 ERA and 1.08 WHIP that he posted over 55.1 innings this past season will lead to a multi-year contract.

It’s not known if any clubs have expressed interest in the 32-year-old Balfour thus far.

Each of the seven players that were offered arbitration by the Rays have decided to decline.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.