Orioles offering Balfour a two-year deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles have made a two-year offer to free-agent closer Grant Balfour, according to an industry source.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette told reporters earlier today that he had offers on the table to starting pitchers, relievers and left-handed hitters. He also indicated that the Orioles were interested in more than one closer, and it's believed that they've extended an offer to John Axford.

The Orioles talked parameters with Balfour's agent earlier this week, but no offer was forthcoming until this afternoon.

Balfour, who turns 36 later this month, has saved 62 games in 67 chances over the past two seasons with the Athletics. He's registered ERAs of 2.28, 2.47, 2.53 and 2.59 over the past four.

Balfour is 28-17 with a 3.27 ERA in 10 major league seasons, including four with the Rays. He's pitched in the American League East, which brings an added appeal to the Orioles.

The Orioles are looking to replace Jim Johnson, who was traded to the A's for infielder Jemile Weeks and a PTBN. Johnson has saved 101 games over the past two seasons, going 50-for-59 this summer.

Balfour emerged as the frontrunner this week, but he may be seeking a three-year deal from another club.

I've heard that the Orioles don't hold the same interest in former Indians closer Chris Perez. However, they also have discussed Fernando Rodney and Joaquín Benoit.

CBSSports.com first reported that the Orioles made an offer to Balfour today. I've been told it's two years.

Multiple Orioles sources have disputed a CBSSports.com report that the also club made an offer to outfielder Nelson Cruz.

I was told yesterday that reported interest in Cruz was exaggerated.

Duquette is pushing to acquire at least one left-handed hitter.

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