Exercising Options: Oakland Athletics

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Closer Grant Balfour # 50 of the Oakland Athletics reacts after getting the final out and the save against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 10, 2012 in Anaheim, California. Oakland won 3-1. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

After losing their third-consecutive game last night and falling a half-game back of the Baltimore Orioles, the Oakland Athletics probably have other things on their mind than whether to pick up the two out-standing 2013 contract options facing the club. But if Billy Beane does get a minute, the two options are rather intriguing:

  • RHP Grant Balfour, 34, has a $4.5 million club option with a $350k buyout
  • SS Stephen Drew, 29, has a $10 million mutual option with a $1.4 million buyout

Among the two options, the right-hander Balfour seems the better and (obviously) cheaper choice over the declining Drew. Balfour, who has shifted around the bullpen this season but has served primarily as the Athletics' closer, has put together his second-straight stellar year in Oakland. Signed to a two-year, $8.1 million contract at the beginning of 2011, the Aussie right-hander has a 2.68 ERA and 8.3 K/9 in one hundred twenty-seven and a third innings with the Athletics.

Drew, picked up from the Diamondbacks on August waivers to fill part of Oakland's black hole on the left side of the infield, has not exactly thrilled in Oakland (.226/.288/.355) but he has not been any worse than Cliff Pennington. While the 29-year-old's days of posting an OPS north of .800 seem to be far behind him, he may be the team's most viable option for the coming season. There is no one in the Athletics farm system nipping at his heels, and any shortstop on the free agent market will likely carry with him a large (and lengthy) price tag.

Having already sent off LOOGY slinger Brian Fuentes in mid-July with a not-insignificant $500k buyout, the Athletics are on the hook for as much as $15 million and as little as $2.25 million with regards to Balfour and Drew. With only $21.25 million committed to the 2013 payroll, the Athletics appear to have the financial flexibility to exercise the options of both players and re-sign impending free agents like Brandon McCarthy or Jonny Gomes, if they so desire.

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What should the Athletics do with their two contract options?

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