By KYLE KEOUGH
Hector Balboa, formerly of the Philadelphia Athletics, was unsurprisingly the prized free agent catch of this off-season. The 30-year-old third baseman agreed to terms yesterday, ending speculation as to where he would finally end up.
The lucky recipient? The Arizona Destroyers.
This season saw what will soon become an alarming trend come to fruition: players are opting to test free agency rather than sign extensions at a much higher rate than previously experienced. Seasons ago, a player of Balboa's caliber might never have made it to the open market.
Now, however, he's raked in the dough as the Destroyers' newest addition. With the franchise's first division title and 96 wins in its immediate rear-view mirror, new owner bpang kept spirits high and proved he was committed to continued success all in one fell swoop.
Balboa, 30, is listed as a second baseman, but could very easily play Gold Glove-caliber third base, adequate center field, and occasionally fill in at shortstop. The Destroyers entered the off-season looking for a little offensive help, and they'll more than receive it in Balboa.
The pricetag, naturally, will be high. Balboa's 5-year deal is worth an estimated $87.5 million; that's just short of the Courier's prediction of 5 years and $90 million, but still an astronomical sum. Still, the three-time All-Star has proven to be one of the top players in baseball over the course of his career.