One of the only shortcomings the Oakland Athletics, a team vying for a three-peat in the American League West, has been the performance of former closer Jim Johnson.
That being said, the club’s brass is looking to deal the right-hander without having to eat the $10 million he’s owed this season – a tall task given his struggles. John Hickey of IBABuzz.com is reporting that the team has been dangling Johnson, but with just under two weeks until the deadline, no trade appears imminent.
“They would prefer to move him before the trade deadline,’’ a source said of the A’s. “They’ve been trying. So far, nothing’s happening.’’
After back-to-back 50-save seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Johnson was anointed the team’s new closer after his predecessor, Grant Balfour, returned to the Tampa Bay Rays during the offseason. However, his dominance has simply vanished with the A’s, leaving the team on the hook for the aforementioned $10 million this season without getting much of anything in return.
The 31-year-old right-hander is 4-2 this season with Oakland, albeit with a 6.25 ERA and just two saves. He’s given up five home runs in just over 40 innings of work – the same number he allowed all of last season, when he pitched over 70 innings for Baltimore. Keeping pitches down in the zone, avoiding the long-ball and finding consistency have been major issues for Johnson in 2014 and make trading him difficult for Billy Beane and the Oakland front office.
He had a nine-game stretch in which he’d had a 2.19 ERA, now has followed it with four games in which he’s allowed eight runs in 4.1 innings, a 16.62 ERA. He didn’t allow a run from April 11-May 4, then had a 9.72 ERA for the rest of May.