Jim Johnson traded to A’s for prospect

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The Athletics have acquired right-hander Jim Johnson from the Orioles for second basemanJemile Weeks, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has confirmed. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sportsfirst reported the deal.

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

The Orioles also announced Monday night they tendered contracts to six of their arbitration eligible players: Matt WietersChris DavisTommy HunterBud NorrisBrian Matusz and Troy Patton.

They also re-signed Steve Pearce and Nolan Reimold

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.

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Orioles Postseason Chatter

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Tim Hudson just signed with San Fran for 2 years 23 mil. He is coming off a serious injury and is 38. I think the Orioles should be spending their money on younger and healthier players. 11.5 a year is too much of a risk for a low market team like the O’s. There is also buzz around the Orioles looking seriously at Carlos Beltran. If the O’s are going to spend, this is the year in free agency. It sounds like Beltran wants at least a 3 year deal. Im guessing he’d make around 13-15 a year, and if a bidding war begins, it could be bad news for the O’s. Apparently the Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, and a few other teams are very interested. If the O’s are willing to spend, they should send 3 years 45 mil to Beltran, go pick up a starting pitcher for 8-10 mil a year, sign a right handed power/average hitting DH, and ink Omar Infante or trade for Ian Kinsler(Texas), Howie Kendrick(LAA), or another proven second basemen. These additions to the team could really help the Orioles over the hump of last year in which Nate McLouth slumped, Brian Roberts got hurt, the DH position could not get it together all year, and the starting pitching was miserable.

A few, but not all the avalibe veteran starting pitchers include: Ubaldo JimenezErvin SantanaBartolo ColonHiroki KurodaA.J. BurnettRicky NolascoMatt GarzaJosh JohnsonScott Kazmir, and Phil Hughes. With Hudson signing for 2y 23mil, the top tier pitchers will be looking for the same. This means pitchers like Phil Hughes, Scott Kazmir, Ricky Nolasco and a few others could go for 8-10 mil a year. The question is, would these pitchers be worth it? With Gausman and Bundy on the cusp of being dominate pitchers, should the O’s pull the trigger? Bundy should be throwing in December and ready to go for the beginning of the season. Gausman struggled with command last year, but should preform better next season with the experience he got this year. The current rotation of Tillman, Gonzalez, Chen, Hammel, Norris, and Feldman does not cut it in the AL East. Feldman and Hammel are free agents, and I expect them to walk. Replacing Hammel with Ubaldo/Colon/E Santana/J Johnson could make a huge difference. The rotation would look like (new pitcher), Tillman, Gonzalez, Chen, and Norris. If the 2-4 and stay healthy and Bud Norris gets back to his Ace days at Houston, this could be a very good rotation.