Jul 2, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Jim Johnson (45) walks off the field after being relieved against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

A's designate former closer Jim Johnson for assignment

After a horrendous season thus far, Oakland reliever Jim Johnson came into Wednesday nights game  in the eighth inning with a 9-2 lead over the Houston Astros. He left having given up four runs (three earned) on four hits without getting a single batter out. That’s just how Johnson’s season has been going. The A’s, one of the favorites for the World Series, designated Johnson for assignment on Thursday morning according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee.

Prior to coming to Oakland, Johnson had led the league in saves with back-to-back 50 save seasons in 2012 and 2013. He, and the remaining $10 million on his contract with the Baltimore Orioles, was acquired by the A’s in an off-season trade for second baseman Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later. That player ended up being minor league catcher David Freitas.

Johnson struggled out of the gate with the A’s and lost his role as the teams closer almost immediately. By May, after a couple of weeks of using a closer-by-committee system, Sean Doolittle was named the team’s closer. Doolittle has blown just three saves in 18 opportunities and has an astonishing 67:3 strikeout to walk ratio.

Johnson has a 6.92 ERA on the year in 38 appearances with the A’s and only two saves. RHP Evan Scribner has been re-called from Triple-A Sacramento to take Johnson’s place on the roster. 

According to Lee, Johnson left without making a statement to the media.

The team tried to work with Johnson by pitching him in non-save, low pressure situations only to have him leave those games, time after time, having blown the lead or lost the game. Other times he’d leave the next pitcher in a pressure situation, not unlike the one he put Dan Otero and Sean Doolittle in Wednesday night. More often than not the A’s seemed to have found a way to win those games. Just think of where they would be having won the ones that Johnson let slip away. They already have the best record in baseball.

The Miami Marlins were the only team that had shown interest in Johnson going into Wednesday’s game. It’s doubtful that the A’s will find a way to trade Johnson and will likely end up eating the remainder of his $10 million salary. That is a large amount for a small market team like the A’s. This year, however, the A’s are also a team that is looking to win it all and that is worth the the extra money.


Tags: Jim Johnson Oakland Athletics

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