Two weeks after trading their closer to Oakland, the Baltimore Orioles agreed to a two-year, $15 million US contract with former Athletics closer Grant Balfour on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the deal.
Balfour's contract will not be completed until the right-hander passes a physical, the person told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the transaction had not been announced by the Orioles.
Balfour fills the vacancy left by the trade of closer Jim Johnson, who was dealt to Oakland because Baltimore didn't want to pay him about $10 million a season. Johnson had 50 saves in each of the past two seasons but was in line for a huge raise.
"It's really about the allocation of resources and to have a competitive team," Orioles executive vice-president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said at the time. "You have to have proper balance."
Balfour is the first significant addition this off-season by the Orioles, who went 85-77 in 2013 but came up short in their bid to reach the post-season for a second straight year.
Balfour, who turns 36 on Dec. 30, went 1-3 with 38 saves in 41 opportunities with Oakland last season. He made $4.5 million with the Athletics in 2013. He had a 2.59 ERA and 72 strikeouts, with 27 walks in 62 2-3 innings.
In 2012, he had 24 saves in 26 chances. In 10 seasons with Minnesota, Milwaukee, Tampa Bay and the Athletics, Balfour is 28-17 with 72 saves and a 3.27 ERA.
The addition of Balfour means the Orioles won't have to try Tommy Hunter or Darren O'Day at closer. Both likely will be tried in a setup or situational role.