The Oakland A's made a common-sense move today with reports coming out that Grant Balfour's 2013 contract option will be picked up by the A's.
The option on the closer who some refer to as "The Mad-Aussie" will cost the A's only $4.5 million, and it will allow them to keep their best relief pitcher from 2012. He finished the season with only 24 saves though he shared time as closer with Ryan Cook, the only All-Star for the A's last year.
Balfour was removed from the closer role after two blown saves in a row, but once he got the job back he nailed it down with 18 consecutive saves. Further, there is little, if any, doubt that he will be the opening-day closing pitcher for the A's next year.
Balfour was a part of a shut-down bullpen for the A's in which they would have Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook work the seventh and eighth innings and then Balfour would finish the job in the ninth.
Keeping Balfour in Oakland is not just important for his on-field talent, but also for his off-field leadership and clubhouse role.
Balfour made a scene in his team's regular-season finale when the A's were up by seven runs going into the ninth inning with the American League West Championship on the line against the Texas Rangers.
When relief pitcher Jim Miller began warming up next to Balfour in the bullpen, Balfour stormed halfway towards the dugout and told manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young that he was going to finish the game and win the division.
News also came out that shortstop Stephen Drew's option will not be picked up by the A's. The option would have cost the small-market franchise $10 million, which would have been the highest salary on the team in the 2013 season.
Drew can still return if he agrees on a contract with the A's, but with high demand for a shortstop in free agency, the option was Oakland's best bet to keep him.