10 Reasons New York Yankees Are Perfect Trade Partner for Grant Balfour

Nick HouserCorrespondent IIMay 8, 2012

10 Reasons New York Yankees Are Perfect Trade Partner for Grant Balfour

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    If the Oakland Athletics decide to once again sell assets at the trade deadline, they should ship closer Grant Balfour to the New York Yankees.

    Moreover, they must strike now for the best deal possible.

    There are several reasons a trade partnership between these two teams is perfect.

    In fact, here's 10 of them.

The A's Constantly Remain Young

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    The Oakland Athletics own a roster with an average age of 28 years old—good for the seventh youngest in the league.

    The New York Yankees are the second-oldest team in baseball.

    Grant Balfour is 34 years old.

    Of course, trading a guy just because he's one of the oldest on the team is ridiculous.

    But every year, the A's get younger.

    If they can trade a 34-year-old player for two much younger prospects, you know Oakland would pull the trigger.

To the Yankees, Balfour Is Affordable

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    Grant Balfour is making $4 million in 2012.

    Cheap as it is, to the New York Yankees, $4 million is like $20 to you and me.

    He's in a one-year deal with an option for a second, so if he performs well, he can be locked up next year as well.

    The 2013 option is worth $4.5 million. Buying him out only costs $350,000.

He Has AL East Experience

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    In a nine-year career, Grant Balfour has pitched in the American League every season except one.

    His longest stint—four years—came in the AL East with the Tampa Bay Rays.

    He was used a ton.

    Consider this: In two seasons with Oakland he's pitched in 76 games. In four seasons with the Rays, he pitched in 206 games.

    He finished 41 of those games and left Tampa Bay with a 3.33 ERA.

    Balfour didn't dominate the division, but he found success. This combined with experience against familiar AL East hitters is a bonus to the New York Yankees.

Trade Before He Dips Lower

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    Before this season, Grant Balfour has never been used exclusively as a closer.

    He started the year well enough, but has since hit a road block.

    In a recent four-game stretch, Balfour went 0-1 and blew two saves. He also accumulated a 23.14 ERA in the same span.

    Now he's suffering from back stiffness.

    Granted, if I can find this information, a Major League Baseball team can too. It's not like this can be kept a secret from the New York Yankees.

    But if Balfour continues on a downward trend, the Oakland Athletics are stuck with him whether they like it not.

    Trade him now while he still has value.

    The Yankees, on the other hand, are a team that doesn't seem to mind taking chances on players.

Balfour Fits the Yankees' Needs

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    New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera tore his ACL and will be out for the 2012 season.

    The likeliest candidate at this point appears to be David Robertson, though Robertson has been an invaluable asset pitching in the seventh and eighth innings.

    The Yankees have Rafael Soriano on the roster, too.

    Soriano has experience closing ballgames and is a logical move to replace Rivera as well.

    But should Soriano move, his spot opens up.

    That spot can go to Balfour.

    It's a win-win for Balfour and the Yankees.

    The player moves back into a role he's familiar with.

    Imagine the Yankees with Balfour-Robertson-Soriano as a one-two-three punch out of the bullpen.

Strike While the Yankees Are Desperate

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    The New York Yankees are in crisis mode.

    Currently, they're three-and-a-half games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and in fourth place in the AL East.

    Now they've lost Mariano Rivera—the best closer of all time.

    If the Oakland Athletics were smart, they wouldn't wait around for someone to call about Grant Balfour.

    They'd do the calling.

The A's Won't Be Hurt by the Loss of Balfour

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    After one month of baseball, the Oakland Athletics are four games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West.

    The Rangers are playing really good baseball. It's going to be hard catching them.

    Most fans are banking on the Los Angeles Angels to rebound, too.

    The likelihood of competing is slim, so losing an older player isn't going to hurt.

    Specifically, trading Balfour won't hurt much at all. He's a bullpen pitcher who, at 34 years old, acquired the closer duties for the first time in his career.

    Balfour's not a closer, though.

    Brian Fuentes, on the other hand—Oakland's setup guy—has 200 saves under his belt.

    If the A's lose Balfour, they easily insert Fuentes.

Former A's Seem to Work Well in Pinstripes

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    This reason might be a bit of a stretch, but check this out: A slew of former Oakland Athletics players have found tons of success with the New York Yankees.

    Whether it's a direct trade, or they find themselves in the Big Apple later in their career, the end result always seems the same.

    Reggie Jackson became Mr. October.

    Jason Giambi became larger than he already was.

    Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher have performed well at Yankee Stadium.

    Even Eric Chavez and Chad Gaudin have contributed in some fashion.

    After a while, general managers begin to trust one another's word. They develop a track record.

    If Billy Beane is high on a guy, but there's no place for him long-term, other GMs can trust the player in question is actually talented. There's no duping one another.

    In this case, Beane likes Grant Balfour, but he won't have a place on the roster much longer due solely to the youth movement and salary.

    That being said, there's going to be more than one team interested.

    If the Yankees want Balfour, they'd better move quick.

The Yankees Have Plenty of Prospect Options in Return

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    For a guy like Grant Balfour, there's no way the New York Yankees are giving up any big-league-ready talent.

    With an aging roster, they're unlikely to say goodbye to any young standouts in Triple-A either.

    That leaves mid-level talent.

    Two Double-A prospects—or even one from Double-A and one from Single-A—would suffice with the Oakland Athletics.

    Currently the A's have three positions locked up—second base, center field and right field. All the rest are up for grabs.

    The Yankees' Double-A Trenton Thunder have a half-dozen second basemen on the roster. The A's could snag one in hopes of turning them into a shortstop. In baseball, there's always diamonds in the rough.

    Another option is a package.

    The last two times the A's traded their closer, they sent a major-league outfielder in the deal (Andrew Bailey with Ryan Sweeney, Huston Street with Carlos Gonzalez).

    Something along the lines of Balfour and Coco Crisp for Eduardo Nunez and Triple-A first baseman Steve Pearce might work.

The Teams Are a Non-Threat to Each Other

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    The New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics are non-threatening counterparts.

    It was rumored one week ago that the Los Angeles Angels are interested in Grant Balfour.

    It's early enough that it would be foolish of the A's to trade within the division.

    Likewise, the Yankees don't want to send anyone to an inter-divisional opponent, or one who they may see in the playoffs often (such as the Texas Rangers).

    These two opposite-coast teams play each other twice in 2012.

    Unless the A's put together a playoff-caliber team, they won't meet in the postseason any time soon either.