Originally it looked like another genius move, trading away an MiLB player in Jemile Weeks – for a guy who has back to back 50 Save seasons on his resume, but it has been a colossal nightmare for the AL Bay Area franchise.
Johnson was given a 1 YR deal worth $10 MIL. This represents about 12% of the team total payroll of just over $80 MIL for the 2014 campaign.
The dollars doled out hurts the team more than anything else. Had this man just been inept, without carrying a heavy price tag, it would have been a 4th and 40 situation (think what you do in football in that scenario.
What is too bad is that Beane actually looks smart in not giving Grant Balfour his cash for the kind of deal he wanted either.
Both Johnson and Balfour have lost their Closer Roles on their respective squads.
With the Athletics, Sean Doolittle has assumed the position now – and had been incredible.
The converted 1B, has a 50 SO/1 BB Walk ratio, which is about 250% better than any one Pitcher in the history of the MLB.
The big LHP has 10 Saves, a crisp 2.00 ERA, and a brilliant 0.583 WHIP in 36 IP. There is no way this guy is relinquishing the role if he keeps this up.
The best part is that Doolittle just signed a 5 YR deal worth only $10.5 MIL, which is only 500K more than Johnson for the one year he is authoring in 2014.
My idea is simple. Trade Jim Johnson, plus $2 MIL for Grant Balfour.
Balfour is due about $2 MIL in 2014, and then pockets $7 MIL in 2015. That is an aggregate total of $9 MIL for the next 16 months.
Johnson has about $5.5 MIL left on his deal this season. I am sure like the A’s, the Rays are wishing they had not signed a new Closer like Balfour.
Pro’s for the deal.
– Tampa saves $3.5 MIL for the collective 16 months, which is huge considering the team is not in contention this campaign, and may look to salvage some cash back by trading Veterans.
– Oakland has 2 Relievers coming off of the books after this season in Luke Gregerson and Eric O’Flaherty. While the latter has not pitched yet, Gregerson has thrown well in any position in the Relief Core not named the Closer.
Balfour was a money deal for the previous stint with the A’s. With the money looking flushed down the toilet for Johnson already, the sum of acquiring the Aussie back would only cost $3.5 more for the next 1 year and a half.
– The 36 Year Old RHP would not have to be the Closer, but he fits into the clubhouse, the fans simply relish this guy, and he could help the Bullpen if it works out. As it stands right now, Johnson has a near 2 WHIP in his frames for Oakland this year, and can’t be trusted.
– Balfour would be given chances by Bob Melvin to resurrect his season, and I am sure he would love to come back and take care of some unfinished business = winning a playoff series as part of the Pitching Staff.
Ryan Cook has been fighting injuries all year with an elbow strain and sore shoulder, and having another quality right hander like the club’s former Closer couldn’t hurt.
Of course, the Tommy John recoveries of A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker may see a better fit to work out of the Relief Core in the middle of next year as well – rather than throw a lot of innings as a Starter in early stages of coming back tot the staff again.
Balfour’s 2014 year has been a weird one for sure.
After a handful of scoreless appearances, the man gave up a 5 ER performance to the Yankees on April.17, and then yielded another 5 ER to the White Sox just 8 days later.
In all, he has appeared in 29 Games, and only given up runs in 6 of those games, accounting for the 18 ER, and a ballooned ERA of 5.52.
Recently, he has thrown 3 straight scoreless Innings, fanning 6 guys in that time frame.
As bad as it has been early, the Aussie has only surrendered 2 HRs in his 29.1 Innings worth of work. Also good is surrendering just 22 Hits, but what is brutal is the Walking of 18 others – contributing to a WHIP a 1.462, where his career mark is 1.202 presently.
When Relievers have a bad start to a year it takes forever for their numbers to fall within good parameters again, and sometimes they never recover for the season at all.
It may be worth exploring this kind of trade for Beane. He should try to act quick though, as the more good efforts Balfour puts forth, it will rise the radar of other teams for a prospective trade.
Although at this day of June.24, it looks like a badly advised move to pick up $9 MIL remaining on the RHP’s 2014 – 2015 combined salary.
The deal may also work out for Jim Johnson – who has a career highlighted by working out of the vaunted AL East, and to be away from the unforgiving A’s fans – who have never embraced the 30 Year Old, originally from Johnson, NY.
To the fans credit, the 2 time reigning AL Saves leader got off to just an abysmal beginning with his new team, losing both of his 1st 2 games he entered, and blowing a Save Opportunity in his 2nd outing.
Johnson’s production mirrors that of Balfour for all things, IP, BB, HRs Allowed, ERA – meanwhile he had given up 41 Hits in 30.2 IP – which is horrible.
But the Rays aren’t going anywhere in 2014, and maybe they will start trading away veterans to assemble a new core among young talent. What better way, than to shave off $3.5 MIL off of your bottom line in the next 2 years!
The Rays can find players within their system to take over for the departed Balfour next year.
Unless Tampa reels off a 21 – 4 stretch like they did about this time last year, this season is likely already over for the Rays.
These 2 teams are perfectly situated to pull off this maneuver.
Heck, even if Johnson is released after a few weeks, $3.5 MIL back in the pockets of the brass should be able to land them another Reliever or 2 for 2015.
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Chuck Booth – Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames: To learn more about my “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here .
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