Fans went crazy, media went nuts, and the Baltimore Orioles stuck to their guns when the team traded the league's top save producer over the past two seasons in Jim Johnson to Oakland for Jemile Weeks and what turned out to be minor league catcher David Freitas.
Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette said the team traded Johnson in order to be able to use the projected $10-10.5 million that Johnson was projected to earn in 2013 and "reallocate the resources" for other parts of the team.
Of course reallocating resources meant spending the money elsewhere, and believe it or not, the team has done exactly that.
The team has since signed RHP Ryan Webb for two years, $4.5 million ($2.25 million per year) as well as closer Grant Balfour for two years, $15 million with $500,000 deferred each year to bring his annual average salary to $7 million.
We love numbers in baseball, so do some quick math here and you will see that the Orioles added a utility infielder in Weeks, minor league catching depth in Freitas, a high quality right handed reliever in Webb and a new closer in Balfour for about the same or even less than what Johnson was projected to make through arbitration in 2014.
Weeks' role with the Orioles will be determined in spring training and will compete with Ryan Flaherty for playing time at second base, while Frietas will be in the minors.
However, the big thing to look at is what the team gets in both Webb and Balfour.
Webb tossed 80 1/3 innings in 2013 for the Miami Marlins and produced a 2.91 ERA with a 1.207 WHIP, 0.6 home runs per nine innings and can get both lefties and righties out.
Balfour has converted 62 of 67 save opportunities over the last two seasons and in 2013 he threw 62 2/3 innings with 38 saves, while producing a 2.59 ERA with a 1.197 WHIP and a 10.3 strikeout per nine inning ratio.
For the price of Johnson, the team has added two pitchers with sub-three ERA's and a combined 143 innings as opposed to keeping Johnson who threw 70 1/3 innings.
Not only did the Orioles, barring injuries, get more quality innings out of the $10-10.5 million, but also shored up two spots in the bullpen as opposed to just one with Johnson. Baltimore had to fill a spot with the departure of Francisco Rodriguez, and in our opinion vastly improved their bullpen.
As of now, the trade of Johnson has perceivably been a very good one for the Orioles. Obviously it is possible that either Webb or Balfour or both could have a terrible year and Johnson lights it up in Oakland, but only time will tell in that regard.
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