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.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: