Rays release Grant Balfour, eat $7 million

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Predictably no teams were interested in claiming Grant Balfour and the remainder of his $7 million salary off waivers, so the Rays have released the 37-year-old right-hander after designating him for assignment.

Last offseason the Orioles backed out a two-year, $15 million deal with Balfour over concerns about the health of his arm and he eventually signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Rays. Balfour had a lot of success in Tampa Bay previously, turning his career around from 2008-2010, but he struggled last year and looked even worse in six appearances this season.

At age 37 he’s likely finished as a late-inning bullpen option, because Balfour’s once-electric raw stuff is no longer good enough to make up for poor control, but he could latch on somewhere as a middle reliever now that the Rays are on the hook for his entire salary.

Nationals back off of minor league stipend cut

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Yesterday it was reported that the Washington Nationals would cut the weekly stipend paid to their minor leaguers from $400 a week to $300 per week through the end of June.

For frame of reference, MLB had agreed to pay all minor leaguers $400 per week through May 31. Several teams have agreed to extend that, with the Royals and Twins agreeing to do it all the way through the end of August. The Oakland A’s decided to stop the payments in their entirety as of today. The Nationals were unique in cutting $100 off of the checks.

The A’s and the Nationals have taken a great amount of flak for what they’ve done. The Nats move was immediately countered by Nationals major league players announcing that they would cover what the organization would not.

The A’s are, apparently, still sticking to their plan. The Nats, however, have reversed course:

One can easily imagine a situation in which Nats ownership just decided, cold-heartedly, to lop that hundred bucks off of each minor league check and not worry about a moment longer. What’s harder to imagine is what seems to have actually happened: the Nats did it without realizing that anyone would take issue with it, were surprised by the blowback, and then reversed course. Like, what kind of a bubble where they living in that they did not think people would consider that a low-rent thing to do?

In any event, good move, Nats, even if I cannot even begin to comprehend your thought process.