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.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has launched what appears to be the beginning of an auspicious career, made all the more notable by the 50 home runs he’s produced for the Mets so far this season. The All-Star slugger pushed his home run streak to four straight games on Friday, collecting no. 50 on an eighth-inning fastball from the Reds’ Sal Romano.
It’s just the latest of a long line of accomplishments for the 24-year-old infielder. Entering Friday’s series opener against Cincinnati, the first-time All-Star carried a .266/.366/.590 batting line with a league-leading 49 homers, 113 RBI, a .956 OPS and 4.9 fWAR through 648 plate appearances. Among those who are still rounding out their rookie seasons in 2019, he ranks first in home runs and fWAR by a long shot: the White Sox’ Eloy Jiménez is second in home runs with 28 dingers, while the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez plays second fiddle in fWAR with 3.7 Wins Above Replacement.
Even more remarkable: Alonso is the second rookie in MLB history to deliver at least 50 home runs in a single season. The first? Aaron Judge, who clubbed a jaw-dropping 52 homers for the Yankees in 2017.