Oakland A’s Trade for Closer Jim Johnson
In their second big move of the day, the A’s acquired former Orioles closer Jim Johnson in exchange for minor league 2Bman Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later or future considerations. It seems clear the A’s are intent on going deeper into the post-season in 2014 than they did this past season.
Johnson appears to be a one-year rental, and an expensive one at that, as he becomes a free agent after the 2014 season and mlbtraderumors’ arbitration guy Matt Swartz projects him to get $10.8 million through the arbitration process for 2014. The A’s and Johnson’s agent have begun negotiations, but I’m doubtful the A’s will offer him more than a one-year deal, since he’s expensive and he’ll be 32 in 2015.
Johnson clearly addresses Oakland’s need for a closer after Grant Balfour’s departure, and it seems highly likely Johnson will be as effective for the A’s in 2014 as Balfour was in 2013. The fact that Johnson led the Junior Circuit in saves each of the last two seasons really doesn’t mean a whole lot, but the facts that Johnson has had ERAs below 3.00 each of the last three seasons and he’s moving into a much better pitchers’ park do. Johnson is a ground ball/control pitcher, and those qualities should serve him well at the Coliseum, a park where batting averages go to plummet.
Meanwhile, the A’s don’t appear to have given up much even for a one-year rental. Jemile Weeks had a .376 on-base percentage at AAA Sacramento last year, which is very good for a middle infielder. He might even help the O’s for several years.
However, the A’s seem to have lost all interest in Weeks. Even though Eric Sogard was hardly terrific as Oakland’s starting second-sacker this past season, Weeks barely got a look from the A’s. Aside from the fact that he hasn’t lived up to his status as the 12th player selected in the 2008 Draft, Weeks turns 27 in January, which means he’s no longer particularly young.
I kind of have to think that the player to be named later Oakland will eventually send to Baltimore will be better than the typical PTBNL, if only because the deal seems so lopsided in terms of the talent trading hands.
It’s also clear that the A’s are serious about winning in 2014 and are taking major steps to improve their chances of doing so. However, I kind of doubt that winning will do a whole lot to improve their bottom line. The Coliseum remains a toilet of a ballpark (quite literally — backed up plumbing was a major issue there this past season) and MLB won’t let the A’s move to San Jose, the most sensible solution to their ballpark and attendance problems.