It has been said, and rightly so, that the Oakland Athletics really need to re-sign Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour. Both of these players would be great returning players for the A’s in 2014 but there is a large difference between them. If Colon happens to sign somewhere else, the A’s have many pitchers they could plug into that position in the starting rotation. However the replacement would not happen so easily if Balfour signs elsewhere. The A’s do have options though.
There appears to be two pitchers that might be able to be called upon if the Athletics end up without Balfour. One is Sean Doolittle and the other is Ryan Cook. Both of these are options currently on the roster and with a couple of years of contract control left for the A’s. Obviously there is the other option of signing a closer from the free agent market but many times they end up being expensive.
Assuming they want to fill the need with a pitcher from their current staff, these are the ones that have some decent closing experience and possibly closer stuff. Doolittle had a 3.13 ERA this season and has a decent 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. That is admirable but he only has a few saves to his credit over his entire professional career.
Cook is a better option as he has 16 saves to his credit for the Athletics at the MLB level and 35 professionally. The lowest his strikeouts per nine inning ratio appears willing to go is right at 9.0. Cook would be my choice to at least get a look at the closer spot if they are void of Balfour this upcoming season. We’ll see what GM Billy Beane can come up with though. He is the genius after all.