Grant Balfour is expected to sign with a new team as a free agent this offseason after three excellent years with the A's — two of which came as the team's closer. According to the latest from Susan Slusser at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Yankees, Tigers, Rockies, Rays and Angels have all expressed interest in the hard-throwing Aussie.
Balfour, 36 in December, saved 62 games for the A's over the past two seasons as their primary ninth-inning option and has a sparkling 2.47 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 254 2/3 innings dating back to 2010. It's a buyer's market for closers this offseason, with Balfour, Joe Nathan, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Chris Perez, Jose Veras, Edward Mujica and Kevin Gregg among the free agents who saved at least 20 games this past season. Brian Wilson, who returned as a dominant setup man, figures to garner interest for ninth inning jobs as well.
Interest between the Tigers and Balfour will turn a few heads due to the fact that Balfour's signature shouting on the mound didn't sit well with Victor Martinez in the ALDS, leading to a benches-clearing confrontation. Still the Tigers figure to add at least one high-profile arm this winter after opening last season with no set closer and experiencing ugly results from a carousel of relievers until Benoit solidified the job.