The A's and free agent reliever Grant Balfour have agreed to a two-year, $8.1 million contract, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Friday.
Balfour, 33, went 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 57 appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays last season. He's a Type A free agent, which normally costs the signing team a first-round draft pick. Since the A's top pick is protected for the 2011 draft, they'll surrender their second-round pick to the Rays.
Having added some offensive pieces as well as depth for the starting rotation, Oakland was known to be scanning the market for relievers. Balfour, a native of Sydney, Australia, will join Michael Wuertz, Joey Devine (if healthy) and Brad Ziegler as right-handed set-up options to get the ball to closer Andrew Bailey.
The A's bullpen had an up-and-down 2010 season, finishing sixth in the American League with a 3.75 ERA. Injuries also took their toll. Bailey missed several weeks with a rib cage strain and was shut down in September to have "clean-up" surgery on his right elbow. Wuertz was slowed by a shoulder injury early in the year and never regained his dominant 2009 form.
Left-handed setup man Jerry Blevins also required surgery this offseason to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.
The Associated Press reported Balfour will earn $3.75 million in the upcoming season and $4 million in 2012. The deal includes a $4.5 million club option for 2013 with a $350,000 buyout.
It's likely Balfour will have to undergo a physical before the deal is announced. A's officials have a policy not to discuss free agents until they're officially under contract.