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Where Has the $10 Million Jim Johnson Savings Gone?

January 16th, 2014 at 11:26 AM
By Josh Michael

The date was December 3rd and the Baltimore Orioles traded closer Jim Johnson to the Oakland Athletics for 2B Jemile Weeks and what turned out to be C David Frietas. At the time, it was an obvious salary dump as Johnson was set to make an estimated $10 million in arbitration and Baltimore did not want to pay their closer that kind of money.

'Jim Johnson, Matt Wieters' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

After the trade, Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette stated that the organization would "reallocate the resources" elsewhere to help fill other holes the team had, which was a reasonable response, especially with the perceived spending cap that owner Peter Angelos imposes on payroll.

The Orioles and Duquette got off to a good start when they signed RHP Ryan Webb a week later to a two-year deal for an average annual salary of $2.25 million. Webb immediately improved the bullpen as he has a career mark of 13-15 with a 3.29 ERA over 266 appearances and 276 innings. He will be 28 once the season starts and is coming off of a pretty good year in 2013 as he posted a 2.91 ERA with a 1.207 WHIP in 66 appearances and 80 1/3 innings pitched.

OK, so there is $2.25 million gone out of the $10 million "resource" that was saved by shipping Johnson to Oakland.

'Grant Balfour' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Then another week passed and Baltimore had finally done it, they had reportedly signed free agent closer Grant Balfour to a two-year, $15 million deal pending a physical. Well there you have it, the $10 million was turned around to add two quality relievers to bolster the bullpen and Duquette and the Orioles held true to their word…..BUT that whole pending a physical thing came back to haunt Orioles' fans as the team saw something in the physical results (which has come to be issues with his wrist and knee) that encouraged them to back out of the deal.

Now we are back to just $2.25 million of the $10 million being spent.

What has happened since then? Well, the Orioles have not signed a single player to a Major League contract since then, with the lone exception being OF Tyler Colvin at some point today, although the deal is pending a physical, so you never know. The numbers are not clear at this point on what Colvin's deal will entail, but there is no way is in near the $7.75 million a year that remains from the Johnson trade.

Baltimore did sign OF Delmon Young this week to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, and barring a horrid camp by Young, he is expected to make the team as the right handed DH, but even if he does make the team, the deal is worth $1 million with a potential for another $750,000 if he reaches all of the incentives.

For argument sake, let's say Young makes the team and even reaches all the incentives in his contract, so the total amount he would make would be $1.75 million in 2014. For the math aficionados out there, Young and Webb's combined 2014 would be $4 million.

Well, doesn't that still leave $6 million in the pot so to speak?

Lastly, the team also agreed to terms with Alfredo Aceves on Wednesday (Click here to read more on Aceves and Colvin deals) on a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Aceves, if he makes the team will get, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, guaranteed $1.2 million if he makes the big league club, with a chance to earn $3 million if he reaches incentives.

OK, again, we will play devil's advocate here, if Aceves makes the team and reaches all incentives that still leaves another $3 million available from dumping Johnson. There is little argument in the world of baseball that you can sign a player to a $3 million contract that will help your club, and let's be honest, what are the odds of Aceves reaching all of his incentives to reach the $3 million mark?

Baltimore has failed to truly hold its end of the bargain of reallocating the resources saved from trading Johnson in early December. One important thing to point out is that there are still some quality free agents left on the market, both offensively and pitching wise and the Orioles could still prove us wrong by signing one of those guys, but right now they have not fully reallocated those resources.


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Tags: Alfredo Aceves, Baltimore, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Dan Duquette, Grant Balfour, Jemile Weeks, Jim Johnson, MLB, Peter Angelos, Ryan Webb, Tyler Colvin

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