Economics drive Orioles’ trade of Johnson for Weeks


The Orioles Monday night traded closer Jim Johnson to Oakland for second baseman Jemile Weeks. Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I knew absolutely nothing about Jemile Weeks before a few hours ago, other than a mediocre stat line since his rookie year and the fact that he played most of last season at Triple A Sacramento. I didn’t even know Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks had a younger brother.

This guy isn’t The Answer at second base. By trading All Star closer Jim Johnson to the Oakland A’s for Weeks last night, the Baltimore Orioles picked up another addition to the mix who can play other positions as well. Shedding Johnson’s salary is 99 percent of the point, it seems. The matter of what to do with the money saved will be the next domino to fall. His performance last season was frustrating in reality, belying numbers that were pretty shiny.

The move was made prior to the midnight deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players

Weeks, the A’s first-round selection in the 2008 draft, batted .271 with 19 doubles, 10 triples, four home runs and 40 RBI in 130 games for Triple-A Sacramento last season and tied for the team lead in stolen bases with 17 in 19 attempts. He played parts of the past three seasons with Oakland. His best season came as a rookie in 2011 when he batted .303 with 26 doubles, eight triples, two homers, 36 RBIs and 22 steals in 97 games.

Depending on the web site you read, fans are either pulling out hair because the Orioles got next to nothing for Johnson, or levelheadedly calling it practical, since Johnson’s performance was not worth what he was going to be worth in arbitration, perhaps $10 million. Dan Duquette emphasized what he called the need to “allocate resources,” meaning there was no way he intended to pay a closer that much. Weeks is 26 and not arbitration eligible until 2015.

A new closer for next season will come from a choice of either Tommy Hunter, someone else already on the team, or one of various free agents. In other words, we will see what we will see.

There is also a player to be named later in the deal.