The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to sign closer Grant Balfour to a two-year, $15 million contract, according to MASN.com's Roch Kubatko. The deal is pending a physical, which could be held on Wednesday.
The Orioles have been looking for a closer since they traded Jim Johnson to the Athletics at the beginning of the month, and have seemed like the favorite to sign Balfour since last week's Winter Meetings. The Aussie reportedly was holding out for a three-year deal from the O's, but they likely decided to up their offer in terms of average annual value in an effort to get a deal done.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, there were as many as three two-year offers on the table for Balfour, who was also linked to the Rockies, Indians, Yankees, Tigers, Rays and Angels this offseason. Once John Axford seemed to be headed to the Indians, the Orioles stepped up as the favorite for Balfour, and got the deal done today.
Balfour, who turns 36 at the end of the month, posted a 2.59 ERA and 38 saves with the Athletics in 2013, earning his first All-Star appearance along the way. For his ten-year major league career with the Twins (2001, 2003-2004), Brewers (2007), Rays (2007-2010) and Athletics (2011-2013), he has posted a lifetime 28-17 record and 3.27 ERA while recording 72 saves in 473 innings of work.
With Balfour and middle reliever Ryan Webb added to a strong core of Darren O'Day, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz and Troy Patton, the Orioles' bullpen looks like it will be strong again next season.