Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane has made it a point not to overspend on closers and that seemed like the logical conclusion for 2014 as Grant Balfour became a free agent and expected to get a pay raise as he saved 62 games over the past two seasons with an era of 2.56. Still that didn’t happen as reportedly the A’s acquired Jim Johnson from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for second basemen Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.
Johnson has played in his entire career with the Orioles where he started out as a setup man before officially becoming the team’s closer in 2012. Over the past two seasons he has an era of 2.72, has saved 101 games in 113 opportunities, thrown 139 innings, struck out 97 while walking 33 and a whip of 1.151.
Overall has a record of 18-26, an era of 3.11, has finished 200 games, saved 122 in 150 opportunities, thrown 400 innings, struck out 265, walked 115 and a whip of 1.233. His best season came in 2012 when he went 51 for 54 in saves, had an era of 2.49, struck out 41 while walking 15 and whip of 1.019 and finished seventh in the Cy Young Award voting, 14th in AL MVP voting and made the All-Star team.
The closer will become the second acquisition of the week for the A’ as starting pitcher Scott Kazmir got signed to a two-year. It also illustrates that at this point Beane wasn’t ready to hand over a new role to Sean Doolittle or Ryan Cook.
With Brian Roberts consistently winding up on the disabled list and now a free agent the Orioles needed to bring in a second basemen and Weeks fulfills their need and 2011 showcased what he is capable of as he hit .303 with 123 hits, 50 runs scored, 26 doubles, eight triples, 2 home runs, 36 rbi and 22 stolen bases in 97 games played. In 2012 he struggled mightily at the plate and would up getting sent down to the A’s Triple-A team though in 2013 he got the chance to compete for the second base job.
Unfortunately for him he got injured during Spring Training that caused him to miss a week and he got outplayed by Eric Sogard. Which, meant Weeks spent most of his season in Triple-A and with the A’s acquiring Alberto Callaspo during the 2013 season and signing Nick Punto this off-season any chance of him getting a shot at making the MLB roster became even slimmer.
Baltimore supposedly didn’t have an interest in paying Johnson and with multiple players who are able to play second base the Orioles found a perfect partner for a trade. Both teams got a need the Orioles a top of the order second basemen and the A’s a closer.