In essence, the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles have traded closers.
A couple of weeks after the A’s traded to acquire closer Jim Johnson from the Orioles, the Orioles have found his replacement in former Oakland closer Grant Balfour, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, via Twitter:
Balfour with #Orioles is indeed $15M for two years, as others have said. Pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 17, 2013
Balfour, who will be 36 on Dec. 30, spent the last three seasons in Oakland, earning the closer’s job midway through the 2012 season.
Last year, Balfour had a 2.59 ERA and 1.197 WHIP in 62.2 innings over 65 appearances, striking out 72. He converted 38 of 41 save opportunities and earned his first All-Star appearance.
That came after a 2012 season in which he converted 24 of his 26 save chances after he took over the closing duties from Ryan Cook in mid-August. In three years with the A’s, Balfour had a 2.53 ERA and 1.043 WHIP in 199.1 innings over 202 appearances, with 203 strikeouts.
Balfour was signed by Oakland as a free agent in November 2010 after emerging as a solid setup man for the Rays from 2008-10.
Balfour, a native of Australia, was signed by the Minnesota Twins as an international free agent in 1997 and debuted in the big leagues with Minnesota in 2001. Balfour missed the entire 2005 season after Tommy John surgery and became a minor-league free agent that December, signing with the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers claimed Balfour off waivers in October 2006 and traded him to the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays in July 2007 for Seth McClung (yeah, that one didn’t work out so well for the Brew Crew).
Over the past four seasons, Balfour has one of the best ERAs of any reliever in baseball at 2.47 with a WHIP of 1.052 and an ERA+ of 158.