Jim Johnson: Braves’ Closer On the Move?


Jim Johnson has been excellent this season coming out of the bullpen for the Atlanta Braves.

Following his worst season in the big leagues, where he owned an unsightly ERA 7.09 while pitching for the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics. His struggles followed a solid career as the Baltimore Orioles closer, where in 2012 and 213 he saved 51 and 50 games respectively, leading the American League in that category. In 2012 he notched an ERA of 2.49 and in 2013 he had a 2.94 ERA.

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After struggling last season, the Atlanta Braves signed Jim Johnson to a team friendly contract, where he would provide depth behind Craig Kimbrel and Jason Grilli. The hope was that Johnson would be able to recapture the dominance he exhibited during his time at Camden Yards.

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Following the trade of Craig Kimbrel, Jim Johnson became the Atlanta Braves’ de facto setup man behind Grilli. In his 8th inning role behind Jason Grilli over the course of the 2015 season (after the Craig Kimbrel trade to the Padres), Jim Johnson has accrued 20 holds. After the season-ending injury to Jason Grilli on July 11th at Coors Field in Denver, Johnson became the Atlanta Braves new closer.

This season has truly been a rebound year for Jim Johnson, who has regained his dominant form with a 2.11 ERA in 47.0 innings pitched. With the Atlanta Braves already actively selling before the July 31st MLB Trade Deadline, it is looking probable that John Hart and the Atlanta Braves front-office will look to move Jim Johnson to acquire more young prospects from a contender looking to add relief depth.

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Here are four teams that could make a deal with the Atlanta Braves for Jim Johnson before Friday’s deadline:

  • Minnesota Twins: Paul Molitor‘s Twins are in an unlikely position this far into July, owning a winning record and are in the hunt for an AL Wild Card Spot. The Twins need relief pitching, and with a deep farm system, could offer the Braves some good prospects in exchange for Jim Johnson’s services.
  • Toronto Blue Jays:  The Blue Jays need relief pitching as they find themselves in the thick of the race for a wild card spot in the American League. They could become a suitor for Johnson.
  • Tampa Bay Rays: With a Wild Card spot in their sights, the Rays could make a play for Johnson, maybe giving up a young pitching prospect such as Brent Honeywell.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers are always looking to add pitching depth, and Johnson could fit the bill. With the Dodgers possessing a great farm system, he could be headed for Southern California.

For continuing updates on the Atlanta Braves leading up to Friday’s MLB Trade Deadline, keep it here at ATL All Day.

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