The Atlanta Braves announced that they have reached a two year deal with Jim Johnson extending his tenure with the team. The thirty-three year old reliever has provided surprising value for the Atlanta Braves. He has bounced to various roles in the Atlanta bullpen most recently taking the closer’s role.
Extending Johnson doesn’t mean that the Atlanta Braves might not look elsewhere for a more dominant closer and transition Johnson to earlier innings. Extending Johnson before he ever hits the free-agent market is a great move from the Braves’ front office and one that helps solidify their bullpen a bit headed into the 2017 season.
The move sends a message of what is to come this off-season for the Braves as well. They are a team looking to take the next step as they move into a new stadium. The days of the Braves trading their best players for huge returns is over. They are looking to turn the page and this is the first move of many for the team this off-season.
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Signing Johnson will also give the Braves some flexibility on how aggressive they want to be trying to acquire a closer on the free-agent market. The Braves could decide to hand the closer role to Johnson who has proven he is able of filling the role, though only for a short span of time.
Considering his struggles in the past the Braves could opt to pursue one of the better closers on the free-agent market and move Jim Johnson to the 7th or 8th innings. Whichever direction the Braves decide to go adding Jim Johnson is a wise decision that will help improve their bullpen and keep their core together for 2017.
The only noticeable departure for the team will be A.J. Pierzynski who is not expected to resign with the Atlanta Braves. The veteran catcher did a great job as a stop gap after injuries and poor performance forced the veteran into a starting role. The Braves are expected to be looking for an upgrade on the free-agent market.
Jim Johnson is a veteran reliever who has reinvigorated his career with the Atlanta Braves and could very well stay with the team for the remainder of his career. The Braves should begin to focus on the free agent and trade markets as it is doubtful that they will extend any other players this off-season.