Grant Balfour rumors: Yankees, Tigers among several teams interested in FA closer

Ezra Shaw

With no qualifying offer tethering him down, the Aussie hurler is having no trouble drumming up interest on the open market.

Free-agent closer Grant Balfour is drawing early interest from the Yankees, Tigers and a handful of other clubs, a source has told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Balfour, 35, is primed to be one of the most sought-after relief pitchers on the open market this winter. In addition to New York and Detroit, the veteran right-hander has already attracted the eye of the Angels, Rockies and the Rays.

While Balfour had a few solid seasons as a seventh-inning guy with Tampa Bay, the Aussie right-hander really came into his own when named the Oakland A's closer at the start of 2012. In the two years since joining the ranks of "proven closer," Balfour has converted 62 saves while posting a 2.56 ERA and better than a strikeout per frame in 137⅓ innings.

He even broke the A's record for consecutive saves in the middle of the 2013 season, besting Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley's decades-old mark of 40 straight. Balfour eventually came down to earth at the end of July -- blowing a save against the Houston Astros, of all teams -- but still finished the season strong.

As Balfour was not extended a qualifying offer by the A's -- Billy Beane never overpays for relievers -- interested clubs can bid away for his services without any concern for losing one of their 2014 draft picks. Balfour made $4.5 million this past season, but is likely to get a hefty raise in free agency.

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