The Oakland A’s exercised the contract option on right-handed pitcher Grant Balfour for the 2013 season, the club announced today. However, the A’s declined to exercise the option on shortstop Stephen Drew. Balfour originally signed a two-year deal with a club option for 2013 on January 18, 2011. Drew was in the second year of a two-year contract with a mutual option for 2013.
Balfour had two stints as the A’s closer in 2012 and saved a team-leading 24 games in a team-high 75 appearances while posting a 2.53 ERA. He was charged with just two blown saves, all during his first stint as closer, and his save percentage of 92.3 ranked fourth in the American League and tied for fourth in Oakland history. Balfour also ranked second among AL relievers in opponents batting (.160), third in slugging (.253), fourth in on-base percentage (.242), fifth in games, tied for fifth in innings (74.2) and 10th in saves. The 34-year-old right-hander finished the season by converting each of his final 18 save opportunities. A native of Australia, Balfour has the most career saves (34) and strikeouts (442) by an Australian-born pitcher.
Drew was acquired from Arizona August 20 for minor league infielder Sean Jamieson and a player to be named later or cash considerations. He batted .250 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 39 games with the A’s after hitting .193 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 40 games with the Diamondbacks. The 29-year-old combined for a career-low .223 batting average in 79 games overall after missing the first 73 games of the season recovering from a broken ankle.