There is no question Oakland Athletics closer Grant Balfour will be expected to earn a decent contract in free agency this winter. With that being said, the Athletics must seriously consider bringing him back.
The fact is Balfour was a huge reason why Oakland was successful in 2013. He posted the third best earned run average (2.59) on the team among pitchers who made at least six appearances and he only blew three of his 41 save opportunities. In fact, his career-high 38 saves is something the Athletics must take into consideration. It will certainly not be easy to find someone of the same value, especially within the organization.
The market is going to be flooded with free-agent closers, which could work in Oakland’s favor. The only problem is Balfour is considered by many to be the top closer who will hit the open market. On the other hand, his age (he will be 36 years old next season) and history of injuries could definitely play against him.
Balfour’s recent success in the postseason is another reason why the Athletics must try to convince him to stay in Oakland. He struck out three batters, saved one game and did not give up a run in three appearances in the American League Division Series.
Organizations work hard to find players of Balfour’s talent to get them deep into the playoffs. I understand the Athletics simply may not have the money to keep him, but it would certainly be a shame to allow him to walk.