Indians rumors: Tribe talking to Grant Balfour

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Is this the answer to Cleveland's closer search?

The Indians have spoken with Grant Balfour about a possible deal, this according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.

Balfour spent the three seasons with the Oakland Athletics, and has been one of the better closers in baseball over the last two years:

Year Age Tm ERA G GF SV IP HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2011 33 OAK 2.47 62 15 2 62.0 8 20 59 163 1.032 1.2 2.9 8.6
2012 34 OAK 2.53 75 34 24 74.2 4 28 72 154 0.924 0.5 3.4 8.7
2013 35 OAK 2.59 65 55 38 62.2 7 27 72 145 1.197 1.0 3.9 10.3
OAK (3 yrs) 2.53 202 104 64 199.1 19 75 203 154 1.043 0.9 3.4 9.2

Balfour would be a big upgrade over recently-departed closer Chris Perez, and would certainly provide a boost to the Indians bullpen, which is short on experienced arms right now, especially if Vinnie Pestano can't rebound from the injuries that derailed him in 2013.

That said, he's probably the best relief pitcher left on the market at this point, and that means it's going to take a multiyear deal worth at least $8 million a year to sign him (something like 2/$18M, or 3/$24). I think that's too big an investment for a team that apparently plans to run with a payroll near $85 million in 2014. Given the large hole in the starting rotation caused by Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir reaching free agency, I think the team is better off finding a way to add a quality starter, rather than going after a Proven Closer™.

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