The Balfour Rage is heading east. Former Oakland Athletics closer Grant Balfour has agreed to a two-year contract worth $15 million (with $500,000 in deferred compensation in 2014 and 2015) with the Baltimore Orioles. Ironically, it was Balfour's former team, the Oakland Athletics, that acquired former Orioles closer Jim Johnson in a trade.
In 2013, Balfour saved 38 games for the Athletics, posting a 2.59 ERA in 62 2/3 innings while also striking out 72 and walking 27. However, Balfour could struggle shifting from the pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a much more friendly park for hitters.
The Orioles essentially dealt Johnson to Oakland for Balfour and Jemile Weeks, saving themselves roughly $3 million in 2014. The shift also makes sense for the Athletics, as they swapped out Balfour and Bartolo Colon for Johnson and Scott Kazmir while paying their new, younger duo less money.
When you look at the market for relief pitchers this winter, two years and $14 million isn't a lot for Balfour. I still think he might end up as a disappointment for the Orioles due to his change in home ballparks, but I doubt this contract will be a full-blown bust and a sunk cost by year two.