Baltimore was reportedly shopping their closer for salary relief in recent weeks. Johnson, 30, is projected to earn more than $10 million in 2014 according to Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors, so the Orioles are saving a nice chunk of change with the trade.
In 74 games this past season, Johnson managed to lead MLB in both saves (50) and blown saves (nine). He had a 2.94 ERA (143 ERA+) and a 3.11 K/BB in 70 1/3 innings. Johnson also led MLB with 51 saves in 2012 and saves are an easy way to earn a huge salary through arbitration. The sinkerballer is due to become a free agent next winter.
Weeks, 26, hit .303/.340/.421 (110 OPS+) in 97 games as a rookie in 2011 but he has been unable to build on that success. He put up a .221/.305/.304 (73 OPS+) line in 2012 before spending most of 2013 in Triple-A. Rickie’s little brother did manage a .271/.376/.369 line in 130 minor league games this past season.
This move means the Orioles are looking to sign a 10 mil pitcher. This is a great move. Jim Johnson was decent but led the league in blown saves. Paying 10 mil for the league leader in blown saves makes no sense. People are complaining that the Orioles are not getting enough in return. I disagree. Jemile Weeks hit a sophomore slump in 2012 and played in the minors in ’13 after hitting .303 his rookie year in ’11. This is a young, talented prospect who needed a change of scenery. This trade also gives the Orioles a second basemen who is very capable of batting .300, stealing 30 bases, and scoring 100 runs as a #1 / #2 hitter.
Going forward, it looks like the O’s will promote a current player to the closer role. Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day looked impressive at the end of the year and could fill in.
The O’s now have money to spend on a starting pitcher and a left fielder. Bartolo Colon must be asking for a ton if the A’s signed Kazmir the other day, so I would cancel him off the list. I would imagine Kuroda, Santana, Burnett, Garza and Ubaldo are hoping to cash in too. Looking at the recently signed contracts of Kazmir(2y 22mil), Hudson(2y 23mil), Haren(1y 10mil), and Nolasco(4y 49mil), the top tier pitchers will likely be looking for 13mil + because of the Nolasco deal. The O’s will likely not sign the top 5-6 guys available. This leaves the Orioles with options like Bronson Arroyo, Roy Halladay, Paul Maholm, Scott Feldman(resign), Joe Saunders, and a few other veterans. I don’t think any of these guys are worth 10 mil, and I doubt the O’s will move any valuable prospects for a veteran, so they will likely overpay for a Roy Halladay or Joe Saunders unless they are willing to cough up cash and years to Ubaldo or Garza.
There is plenty of talent in the outfield, but once again, the O’s will be looking for a lower contract. David DeJesus(2y 10.5) and Marlon Byrd(2y 16 mil) are mid tier outfielders that the O’s will be looking to match contracts off of. Kelly Johnson, Andres Torres, and Rajai Davis look like great targets for 5-6 million dollar outfielders. If the O’s do spend on a SP, Reed Johnson could be a 3 million dollar target. Plenty of options. Also would look at Raul Ibanez for DH. He’s 42, but was very good last year in Seattle.
According to ESPN
Not too sure what this means. Bud Norris being tendered means hes in the starting rotation. Hammel should walk, leaving Gonzalez, Tillman, Chen and him as starters. The O’s now have the options to sign an a top tier OF and promote Gausman/Britton /Bundy(when ready) or sign a 8-10 mil pitcher and sign a 4-5 mil outfielder to start in LF. The O’s are contenders and it would be nice if they could sign Choo, Beltran, or Nelson Cruz with a decent starter like Arroyo.
Now that the O’s have money, things should get interesting in the next few weeks with teams signing players to help the O’s mold contracts around their targets tier’s.