A’s nearly traded reliever Johnson to Marlins for 39th pick in draft

A's reliever Johnson was very nearly a Marlin.

Kyle Terada/Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics will select only twice in the first 100 picks of the amateur draft, at Nos. 25 and 65. But last weekend, they were in talks to land one more top 100 choice.

The Marlins, before acquiring right-hander Bryan Morris from the Pirates on Sunday, made the Athletics a trade offer for righty Jim Johnson, according to major-league sources.

The Athletics were willing to make the deal – Johnson and cash for the No. 39 pick and another player – but the Marlins instead used the pick to land Morris, sources said.

Picks 35 to 41 and 69 to 74, awarded as “competitive-balance” selections, are the only draft choices that clubs are permitted to trade. The Astros acquired the No. 37 pick from the Orioles last July 31 as part of the Bud Norris deal.

The Athletics, sources said, are not looking to move Johnson, but the Marlins approached them about a trade while aggressively pursuing bullpen help last weekend.

The idea appealed to the A’s because their bullpen is deep and getting deeper. Right-hander Ryan Cook, who missed about a month with a right forearm strain, rejoined the club on Tuesday. Left-hander Eric O’Flaherty, recovering from Tommy John surgery, is expected back in a few weeks.

The Athletics would have paid a portion of the approximately $6.5 million remaining on Johnson’s contract, and the Marlins would have paid the $1.4 million bonus assigned to the No. 39 pick, sources said.

The Pirates assumed the $1.4 million slot in the Morris deal, and the Marlins used their savings to sign free-agent right-hander Kevin Gregg for the same dollar figure.

Johnson, who turns 31 on June 27, is coming off back-to-back 50 saves seasons with the Orioles. But he lost the closer’s role with the A’s, and has allowed 45 baserunners in 22 innings this season.