Now things will be even more awkward for Jim Johnson. The Oakland Athletics, who acquired Johnson in a trade this past offseason with the Baltimore Orioles, nearly shipped him back across the country last week, two months into a relationship that can only be deemed a bust.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the A's had a deal in place with the Miami Marlins, that would have given Oakland a draft pick in return. The A's would have even paid some of what's left of Johnson's $10 million salary this season. Instead, the Marlins made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates to acquire relief pitcher Bryan Morris for that same draft pick — 39th overall in this year's draft, which starts Thursday.
This leaves Johnson more out in the cold than before. He led the AL in saves the past two seasons, but Johnson's stint as the A's closer ended quick. He blew two saves in his first week and was demoted from the closer role after eight games. Despite the fact that the usually frugal A's made Johnson their second-highest paid player behind Yoenis Cespedes.
Since taking him out of the closer's role, the A's have used Johnson in mostly non-save situations to varying degrees of success. He has an ERA of 6.55 and in May alone gave up runs in five of his 10 outings. The fans in Oakland — usually among the most supportive in baseball — have been booing Johnson since Day 1. Meanwhile, the A's appear to have found their closer in Sean Doolittle. The rest of the their bullpen has been effective and the team has the best record in the AL. So, really, they don't need Johnson around at the moment.
Rosenthal went on to report that the A's have been shopping Johnson elsewhere around the league, but the team denied that.
Rival exec: #Athletics willing to pick up rest of Jim Johnson's salary, offering him around to multiple teams.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 4, 2014
#Athletics strongly deny that they are shopping Johnson, as rival exec told me. Categorized exec's statement as "a lie."— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 4, 2014
You know A's general manager Billy Beane, though. He's always wheeling and dealing. So it's hard to believe the A's aren't at least willing to listen to offers for Johnson, and they may even get more now that teams know how willing the A's are to part with him.
It's probably for the best that the A's trade Johnson at this point. If he wasn't performing and didn't feel welcome in Oakland before, how's he going to feel now?
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