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

2013 season.

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.