Baltimore Orioles: Closing Time


We’ve heard a lot of reaction and opinion regarding the Jim Johnson trade late Monday night around Birdland. However the one opinion you might not have heard is that of the editor of Fansided’s official Orioles’ site. So here goes…personally I think it was a smart move by the organization. However it’s only a smart move by the organization IF they’re able to use the savings on Johnson’s salary to fill a need. Namely, I would say that a huge need would be a front-line starter. However I digress. The Birds are saving $10 million in salary on Johnson, which is now being paid by the Oakland A’s.

Courtesy of Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of fans’ reactions were that the team had sold a bit low on Johnson. From the outset, that does appear to be the case. However keep in mind that we’re talking about a closer who struggled in 2013 just a bit, and ultimately a player who only plays one inning of the game. To go one step further, we’re mainly talking about a player who plays one inning in games when his team is in the lead by three runs or less. While Johnson was an all-star closer who had some great times in Baltimore, if anything A’s fans might want to question why their management gave up Jemile Weeks and a minor leaguer (to be named later) for a closer who’s making $10 million.

There’s no question that this is a salary dump from the Orioles’ perspective, but I would submit that it’s a smart salary dump. That’s where the caveat comes in regarding my statement that it was a smart move. If the Orioles can take that $10 million and use it to sign a free agent or to pay for another player for whom they’ll trade at some point, then it’s a good move. If that $10 million gets put into a pile of cash that’s never used for the on-field product, then it’s probably a poor move by the organization.

Either way, $10 million is a lot to pay a closer. Here’s another question; did the Baltimore Orioles just land themselves a second baseman in Jemile Weeks? I would submit that the answer is nugatory on that. However Weeks could certainly be decent infield depth for the organization, and he does have minor league options. And let’s be frank; Dan Duquette is pretty good at sifting out value in players. Who’s to say that Weeks isn’t included in a would-be trade whereby the Orioles use that extra $10 million to find themselves a starting pitcher?

I suppose that the message here is that what’s seen on the outside might not always be the full or total story. The O’s probably sold a bit low on Jim Johnson, however I highly doubt that the conversation with Duquette and Oakland GM Billy Beane went: “…all we can give you is Weeks and a minor leaguer,” with Duquette saying “fine.” There’s always a method to the madness a foot, and somehow I see this trade working out in the Orioles’ favor down the road.