According to a report from Patrick Mooney, RHP Grant Balfour is on the Cubs radar as the team searches for solutions in the bullpen.
Grant Balfour has a history with Joe Maddon and it was assumed the Cubs would check in with Balfour when the Rays released him this week. According to the report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs are interested in Grant Balfour.
Grant Balfour appeared in six games for the Rays this season and allowed three runs on three hits with four walks and no strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. Balfour allowed all but two of the hits and one walk to the Yankees in two thirds of an inning on April 18, his last appearance with the Rays.
Balfour was 2-6 in 65 appearances out of the Rays bullpen for Joe Maddon last season. Balfour allowed 34 runs on 49 hits with 41 walks and 57 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings. Balfour pitched for Joe Maddon in Tampa in 2007-10 and again last year. Balfour was an All-Star in 2013 and in 65 appearances for the Oakland A’s he posted a 1-3 record with 38 saves (2.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 3.49 FIP).
Grant Balfour had an agreement in place with the Baltimore Orioles before a failed physical put him back on the market. Balfour signed a two-year contract with the Rays that paid him $7 million this season.
RHP Justin Grimm is expected to pitch in an extended Spring Training game this week but it is unclear as to when Grimm or RHP Neil Ramirez will be able to return. As of Wednesday night, Ramirez had not been scheduled to pitch in a rehab game.
Mooney explained the Cubs are not interested in RHP Rafael Soriano as the team explores ways to improve the bullpen. Scott Boras is looking for a better situation for Soriano than the Cubs have to offer right now.
The backend of the bullpen has been very good with RHP Pedro Strop in the eighth and RHP Hector Rondon in the ninth, plus lefty Zac Rosscup has given Joe Maddon another reliable late inning option.
RHP Gonzalez Germen and LHP Phil Coke gave up six runs in two innings Wednesday night and allowed a rough outing from Kyle Hendricks to get out of hand.
According to Patrick Mooney, LHP James Russell could be an option for the Cubs.
Bruce Levine reported last Sunday that Russell could be back with the Cubs in a week to 10 days to help a bullpen that has struggled as a unit since Neil Ramirez went on the disabled list.
James Russell signed a minor league contract with the Cubs on April 8. In five appearances for the Iowa Cubs, Russell has not allowed a run in 7 2/3 innings. Russell has given up only three hits and no walks with 11 strikeouts.
In order for the Cubs to add a reliever from outside the organization and/or James Russell, the front office will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster which currently stands at 40 players.
The Cubs pen hasn’t performed to expectations. Unlike the last three years, at least Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking for ways to improve areas that need to be addressed.