Did the A’s just sign Tampa Bay Ray’s Grant Balfour…?
Well, according to sources close to the A’s organization, Balfour, pending a physical, will sign a two-year $8.1 million dollar contract with both a $350,000 buyout, as well as a club option in 2013 deal to don the yellow and green. A move that will only strengthen it’s bullpen status.
Last season, 33-year old Balfour had a 2.28 ERA and 1.08 WHIP for the Rays, On top of that he had the third best strike out rate of any AL reliever with a total of 207 strikeouts in 181 innings over the past three seasons. A record that A’s management has been looking for in a player. They will waste no time signing this Type A Free agent, even though his status proved a bit daunting to teams looking to scoop him up.
Usually, this type of agent is one that most teams will shy away from. Signing a player with Balfour’s status means that most organizations will have to give up their first round draft pick come spring. However, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, the A’s are not one of those teams, because they ranked in the bottom half of all teams based on their 81-81 record last season, they will lose only a second-round pick.
Balfour has also not agreed to sign an arbitration offer at the end of his contract, which means any club who wants to sign him would not have to surrender a compensation pick in his next deal. This also means that the A’s will have to cut their 40-man roster down to make room for the Australian born Balfour.
With the probable signing of Balfour this means that the A’s will be a team to reckon with. They already have some pretty formidable ball players such as Brad Zeigler, Craig Breslow and Jerry Blevins. Then there is Andrew Bailey who is coming back stronger than ever this season after being sidelined with a slew of injuries. Plus, the much notarized signing of Hidecki Matsui means that they are at an even keel to be back in contention for placing in the AL West this upcoming season.