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Athletics acquire closer Jim Johnson from Orioles

Dec 2, 2013, 11:41 PM EDT

Jim Johnson Getty Getty Images

UPDATE: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Athletics have acquired Johnson from the Orioles in exchange for second baseman Jemile Weeks. The Orioles are also expected to receive a player to be named later.

Weeks was once a top prospect with the A’s, but he has fallen out of favor over the past two seasons. He appeared in just eight games at the major league level this year and hit .271/.376/.369 with four home runs, 40 RBI, and 17 stolen bases over 130 games in Triple-A. Still, he doesn’t turn 27 until January, so perhaps the change of scenery will do him some good. He should have a chance to compete for the starting second base job in the spring.

With Johnson’s expected raise in arbitration, the return wasn’t nearly as important as the salary flexibility. The Orioles can now address other areas of need. Tommy Hunter gives them an in-house option at closer, though they could look to the free agent and trade markets for a replacement.

10:22 p.m. ET: Well, here’s a surprise. While we learned earlier today that the Dodgers were “in the mix” to potentially acquire Orioles’ closer Jim Johnson, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal now hears that the Athletics are now the “most involved” in trade discussions. Furthermore, Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers no longer expect to acquire him.

Given that Johnson will see his salary rise to around $10 million in his final year of arbitration, he would appear to be an odd fit for the usually cost-conscious Athletics. However, they have a vacancy in the closer role with Grant Baflour on the free agent market. And they would only have to commit one year if they make the trade.

Johnson had his second-straight 50-save season this year, leading the American League once again, but he also led the majors with nine blown saves. The Orioles are essentially shopping him in order to shed salary, so the return could be minimal.

  1. syphermce - Dec 2, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    I really think trading Johnson would be a mistake if the Orioles want to compete for the playoffs next season. I don’t like anyone currently on the roster enough to fill the closer role. That being said, if a team offers a trade that you can’t refuse, take it.

    • DJ MC - Dec 2, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      A lot of people who saw Johnson pitch last year would say the same about the roster with him ON it.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:14 PM

        He had a bad month. Granted it was a pretty horrendous month, but outside of that month, he was pretty dominant. And I fault a lot of that month on Buck refusing to go to anyone else and giving JJ a breather.

  2. pipkin42 - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    Jemile Weeks? Eh.

    Maybe the PTBNL is an interesting recent draftee, or something?

  3. APBA Guy - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    I’m astonished by this. I’ll be even more astonished if the A’s don’t flip him.

    • historiophiliac - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      Maybe we can bundle him with our bag of balls for a half year of Stanton each.

  4. miketreedy - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    For the A’s this was a way to get a premier closer with only 1 year left on his contract. Most of the other free agent RPs want multiple years. Not like they are giving up much.

  5. rwlsports - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    Jim Johnson is an elite closer in the big leagues, and now the Orioles have no one to close out their games so they can make the playoffs. If the Orioles don’t resign Brian Roberts, Jemile Weeks, starting secondbaseman? Really? The A’s got a steal, the orioles need to deal. The A’s might trade away Jim Johnson in the future because they can’t afford him, just Cahill, Gio, Bailey, and CarGo. So I’m not sure what to say but blah.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Dec 3, 2013 at 8:57 AM

      Tommy Hunter will close. He will be fine. The Orioles have a few options at second including Flaherty, Roberts (If they resign), Weeks, Schoop, Phelps. It’s not like MLB is stuffed with second baseman right now.

  6. memphistigers311 - Dec 3, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    I can help you with what to say. I think you’ve been Beaned! :)

  7. psubeerman21 - Dec 3, 2013 at 6:13 AM

    You don’t pay a guy 10 million to pitch one inning. Sorry. It’s better to invest that 10 million in other areas of the team, like pitchers that pitch 7 innings or batters that hit 5 times a game. The closer position is just too irratic from year to year. For as many Mariano Riveras there are, there are 5 closers that are great one year and tank the next.

  8. darthicarus - Dec 3, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    Weeks for Johnson. 3 random guys for Doug Fister. What the heck was going on in MLB last night?

  9. rockthered1286 - Dec 3, 2013 at 6:36 AM

    While I’m happy to see JJ go simply because my heart cannot take his inconsistent pitching and inability to go 1-2-3 in any save opportunity (more likely to see JJ put 2 runners on than put up a K or 2), I’m weary of this deal. You get back a utility infielder. IF BRob is gone you’ll see Flaherty likely start at second over Weekes. This was a salary dump move. But if history tells us anything with Uncle Pete, saving a buck here doesn’t mean he plans on spending it anywhere else. So essentially I’m seeing that as dumping a closer to save money for Petey that won’t come back to the organization. Fun times we have here in the off season in Baltimore.

  10. sophiethegreatdane - Dec 3, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    I love JJ, but he had more than “one bad month” last season. If he had somehow managed to only blow half of the saves that cost the Orioles losses, they would have been in much better position to make the playoffs.

    Oh well, so long JJ. Best of luck to you.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      Maybe you should revisit his breakdowns. He had a bad May. August was slightly sub-par. April, June, July, September were fantastic.

      Mariano Rivera has created unrealistic expectations in most fans heads when thinking of a closer.

      • sophiethegreatdane - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        He led the league in blown saves, and let’s not forget the losses. He came into tie games (i.e. non-save situations) and managed to post an L. The saves he managed to convert, he let a LOT of men on base — it could have been a lot worse.

        Eliminate the L’s and cut the blown saves in half, and I bet you the O’s were in the playoffs last year.

        Again, I’m a JJ fan! I wish him well — I just wish he could have been just a little better than the “50 saves” indicates. It’s a little bit misleading.

      • clydeserra - Dec 3, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        thanks, but I’ll ignore “blown saves” and “loses” when looking at a reliever.

        he seems slightly better than average. Doesn’t strike out enough.


  11. ryanrockzzz - Dec 3, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    Good deal for the A’s, although simply replacing players (Johnson for Balfour, Kazmir for Colon) doesn’t make the team that much better. If the A’s can find some younger players/or see development from current players that leads to an increase in wins they can contend again going into next season.

  12. watermelon1 - Dec 3, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    While I was not a Jim Johnson fan… Orioles fans have to realize with Machado out for the season, the orioles were not going to do anything this year anyway.

    That’s too big a hole both offensively and defensively.

    Might as well save as much money as possible for 2015

    • tc4306 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      Since when is Machado out for the season? Have not heard that at all. Last I heard, Buck was saying he expected him back some time in April, maybe even for opening day.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:04 AM

      Where are you getting this Machado out for the season? He’s expected to miss a few weeks to a month at worst.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:04 AM

  13. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    I just can’t help but feel they should have gotten more for him. I know he’s a 10 million a year player on his walk year, but it’s crazy to think that the league leader in saves was traded for a 4A second baseman who once showed promise and a PTBNL. I get the logistics, but it’s really hard to be left not feeling empty on this one.

    • psuorioles - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      I’ve said this on other sites…. It’s easy for fans to say the O’s should have gotten more in return; so my question is, who do YOU think they should have gotten?

      The market is littered with quality closers, and the fact DD was able to get a young, controllable player is a good thing…

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:48 AM

        I don’t know. As I mentioned above, I understand the logistics, and I’m far from an expert on every team’s roster, and who knows what interest there truly was, it just feels like the O’s got the short end of the stick on this move. It would have been nice to see another mid-level prospect type at least. Maybe the PTBNL will turn out better than we expected, but right now, the deal feels very lopsided.

  14. vtdcfan - Dec 3, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    Easy to say we got the @short end of the stick” here but what will that 10 mil allow us to do?? We don’t have Yankees money so we have to trust the farm or current players… No option! 10 mil for 1-3 outs… Maybe??? Lead in saves and tops in blown saves… Hope we can figure it out

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