A’s acquire closer Johnson, add starter Kazmir
In one productive day, Athletics general manager Billy Beane
filled two important pitching voids.
The A’s acquired AL saves leader Jim Johnson from the Baltimore
Orioles on Monday night as a replacement for All-Star closer Grant
Balfour. That move came hours after free-agent left-hander Scott
Kazmir agreed to terms on a $22 million, two-year contract.
Kazmir’s deal is pending a physical, a person with knowledge of
the negotiations said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity
because the team hadn’t made a formal announcement.
As has long been Beane’s December practice, he improved his team
by trading away young talent developed through the farm system.
The A’s got Johnson for infielder Jemile Weeks and a player to
be named in the swap announced late Monday by both teams.
The switch-hitting Weeks was a first-round draft pick by Oakland
in 2008 and has played parts of the past three seasons in the big
leagues. He batted .271 with 19 doubles, 10 triples, four home runs
and 40 RBIs in 130 games for Triple-A Sacramento last season. He
shared the club lead with 17 stolen bases in 19 attempts.
Balfour became a free agent after the season and is expected to
command a multiyear deal. While Beane expressed confidence he could
fill the ninth-inning duties from within, he opted for a trade, as
has become a necessary function for the low-budget club.
The 30-year-old Johnson converted 50 of 59 save opportunities in
2013, going 3-8 with a 2.94 ERA. He was tied with Atlanta’s Craig
Kimbrel for the major leagues saves lead.
Johnson, who led the majors with 51 saves in 2012, earned $6.5
million in base salary this year. He also made a $25,000 bonus for
finishing at least 55 games, leading the majors with 63.
Beane has been determined to keep as much of his winning roster
intact heading toward 2014 to make another playoff push. The A’s
have lost each of the past Octobers in five-game division series
against the Detroit Tigers.
The 29-year-old Kazmir went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts
and 158 innings last season for the Cleveland Indians. It marked
his return to the big leagues for the first time since making one
poor outing for the Angels in 2011, which followed a 9-15
performance in 2010 for Los Angeles.
With the pending acquisition of Kazmir, the A’s have filled a
rotation spot with a veteran starter as they had hoped to do. That
means they won’t necessarily continue to pursue a new deal for
40-year-old 18-game winner Bartolo Colon.
Colon returned from a suspension-shortened 2012 season to earn
every bit of the $3 million the A’s gave him in a one-year
contract. He served a 50-game suspension for a positive
testosterone test, and the penalty took him into the start of the
The A’s reached agreement on a $600,000, one-year contract with
right-hander Fernando Rodriguez. He was one of nine arbitration
eligible players – and all were tendered contracts for the 2014
season, including first baseman Daric Barton. Barton is the team’s
longest-tenured player and will provide infield depth.