The Oakland Athletics released right-hander Jim Johnson on Friday, closing the book on a disappointing offseason acquisition. The move was announced via the club’s official Twitter account:
Johnson was designated for assignment on July 24, a day after giving up four straight hits on 11 pitches after entering a game against the Houston Astros with a 9-2 lead in the eighth inning.
Things went wrong for Johnson right from the start. He entered a scoreless game in the top of the ninth inning on opening night against the Cleveland Indians and gave up two hits and a walk while retiring just one batter.
He wound up being charged with both runs that scored and took the loss in a 2-0 defeat for the A’s.
It didn’t get much better.
He was removed as the A’s closer after blowing a save and taking a loss in his second appearance for Oakland, a 6-4 loss to the Indians on April 2.
Johnson made 38 appearances for the A’s, going 4-2 with two saves in 40.1 innings. He posted an ERA of 7.14 and had a 2.058 WHIP, striking out 28 batters. This after he became the first player in major league history with back-to-back 50-save seasons, picking up 51 saves for the Orioles in 2012 and following up with 50 last season.
But even with all of the saves he piled up, there were warning bells in 2013. Opposing hitters put up a slash line of .273/.336/.364 against Johnson last season and he had nine blown saves in 59 opportunities. His WHIP of 1.280 was also a major uptick from the 1.019 he recorded in 2012.
Fortunately for the A’s, left-hander Sean Doolittle stabilized the back end of the bullpen when he was installed as the closer. He has converted 16-of-19 save changes and earned an All-Star nod. He has a 2.59 ERA and a ridiculous 0.637 WHIP in 48.2 innings, with a 69-4 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
The A’s will have to eat the remainder of Johnson’s $10 million salary this season and he might be a cheap target for a contender looking for bullpen help.