Grant Balfour Signs On As A's Strengthen Relief

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Grant Balfour Signs Two-Year Contract With Oakland A's

With Andrew Bailey, Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, and Jerry Blevins - among others - the Oakland A's already had the makings of a strong bullpen. On Friday they've only made it stronger, signing free agent reliever Grant Balfour to a two-year contract.

According to Buster Olney, the deal will be worth a total of $8.1 million, and is pending a physical. Balfour is a Type A free agent, but because the A's finished among the league's worst 15 teams last season, their first round pick is protected. They will surrender their second round pick to the Rays as compensation instead.

The 33-year-old Balfour was one of the market's top free agent relievers this winter, coming off three consecutive solid years at the back of the Rays bullpen. He works off of a hard, biting fastball and averages better than a strikeout an inning, which offsets occasional struggles with command and fly balls. He was until recently considered a possibility to return to Tampa Bay, but that was before he found the multiyear contract he was seeking.

Balfour becomes the sixth Rays reliever to sign elsewhere in the offseason. In addition to the pick they'll get from the A's, the Rays will also receive a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. For more, check out Athletics Nation.

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