The A’s sign Grant Balfour: Two years, $8.1 million

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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that the deal is for two years, $8.1 million, pending a physical.

10:58 AM: Did someone mention Rays free agents signing elsewhere?  Because we have another: Grant Balfour is close to signing a deal with the Oakland Athletics. That according to Jon Paul Morosi. It’s a multi-year deal. We have no details on the dollars yet, but we’ll update them as soon as they come in.

Balfour went 13-7 with a 2.98 ERA and 207 strikeouts in 181 innings over the past three years as the setup man in Tampa Bay.  There was talk earlier this winter of the Orioles being interested in him, but their deal with Kevin Gregg scuttled that.

Balfour is a type-A free agent, so that means that this is just the latest deal that gives the Rays draft picks.  Indeed, as Aaron is going to explain in a post later this morning,  in that regard this has been an outrageously profitable winter for the Rays.

Albert Pujols hit his 597th career home run

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Angels DH Albert Pujols smacked his 597th career home run, a two-run shot in the top of the first inning during Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Rays. The blast was off of Erasmo Ramirez and marked No. 6 on the season for the future Hall of Famer.

Pujols finished 1-for-3 with the homer and a walk. After Wednesday’s game, he’s hitting a lackluster .244/.296/.378 with 34 RBI and 14 runs scored in 186 trips to the plate.

Pujols currently ranks ninth on baseball’s all-time leaderboard and is three shy of joining the 600-homer club. He’s currently 13 home runs away from tying Sammy Sosa for eighth all-time.

Chris Sale’s streak of starts with at least 10 strikeouts ends

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale entered Wednesday’s outing against the Rangers with at least 10 strikeouts in eight consecutive starts, tying a record he already shared with Pedro Martinez. He failed do break the record, racking up only six strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Fortunately, the Red Sox scored seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to put him in line for the win. Sale gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk.

After Wednesday’s outing, Sale is sitting on a 2.34 ERA with a 101/14 K/BB ratio in 73 innings. So far, so good for the Red Sox, who acquired Sale from the White Sox in December.

Sale previously racked up 10 strikeouts in eight consecutive games between May 23 and June 30 in 2015 with the White Sox. Pedro Martinez accomplished the feat for the Red Sox between August 19 and September 27 in 1999.