The Yankees aren’t the only American League contenders trying to load up their bullpen.
The A’s, who reached agreement Friday with free-agent right-hander Grant Balfour, are close to adding free-agent lefty Brian Fuentes, major league sources say.
Fuentes, 35, is expected to get a two-year deal, sources say, with an option for a third year. He is expected to get more than $5 million per year, and the deal will include "lots" of closing incentives.
Fuentes resides in Merced, Calif., less than a two-hour drive from the Oakland Coliseum. He also has drawn strong interest from the Blue Jays.
Balfour officially will join Oakland on a two-year, $8.1 million contract once he passes a physical. The A’s also added designated hitter Hideki Matsui and outfielders David DeJesus and Josh Willingham this offseason, and they made a six-year, $78.6 million bid for free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Beltre instead signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Rangers, leaving the A’s with flexibility to reinforce their bullpen and perhaps add another right-handed hitter. The A’s had the best rotation in the AL last season, leading the league in ERA by nearly a half-run per game. Their bullpen was not quite as strong, ranking sixth in ERA.
Fuentes led the AL with 48 saves in 2009 and had a combined 24 saves and 2.81 ERA for the Angels and Twins last season. The A’s could use him as a setup man and occasional fill-in for closer Andrew Bailey, who is right-handed.
The team’s bullpen then would include Fuentes, Jerry Blevins and Craig Breslow from the left side, and Bailey, Balfour, Michael Wuertz and Brad Ziegler from the right. Joey Devine, another right-hander, also is expected back from Tommy John surgery.
The A’s will lose a second-round pick for signing Balfour, a Type A free agent, but no pick if they add Fuentes, a Type B. The Rockies and Rays also were in the mix for Fuentes, but both clubs have backed off, sources say.