Rays sign reliever Grant Balfour to a minor league deal

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Following a disastrous outing against the Yankees on April 18, reliever Grant Balfour was designated for assignment by the Rays. He was granted his release several days ago, as the Rays chose to eat his $7 million salary for the 2015 season.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, however, reports that the Rays have signed the 37-year-old Balfour again, this time to a minor league deal. He is expected to report to Triple-A Durham.

Over the last two seasons, Balfour’s fastball velocity declined precipitously, going from 93.4 MPH on average in 2013 to 91.6 MPH last season and 89.4 MPH in a handful of innings to begin the 2015 campaign. He finished with a 4.91 ERA and a 57/41 K/BB ratio in 62 1/3 innings last year.

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.