Interesting reading today from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, who reports that the A’s nearly swung a trade to send reliever Jim Johnson to the Miami Marlins in exchange for Miami’s No. 39 draft pick.
I’ve yet to receive word myself that any such deal almost went down. But regardless of how close it was or wasn’t to happening, it is revealing that another team apparently showed serious interest in acquiring Johnson.
It’s an indicator that other teams are watching Johnson, and that at least one team held some belief that he’s capable of turning his season around. You’re well-versed on the story of Johnson’s 2014 season: It’s been a disappointment so far to say the least, and the cold reception he’s gotten from the Coliseum crowd prompted Johnson’s teammates to come to his defense and scold those fans who are booing him.
Johnson’s drastic home/road splits – he holds a 14.04 ERA in 11 appearances in Oakland and 1.98 mark in 11 appearances on the road – might suggest to other teams that a change of scenery is all Johnson needs to start retiring hitters with regularity. He’s coming off 51-save and 50-save seasons, after all, with no sign that health is any concern.
If one team has come calling, and Rosenthal suggested it was the Marlins who initiated dialogue with the A’s, it’s reasonable to assume there could be more interest as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline draws closer. For any deal to happen, it would seem the A’s would have to eat a sizable portion of the approximately $6.5 million remaining on Johnson’s salary this season.
From the A’s standpoint, it’s easy to see them at least entertaining thoughts of dealing Johnson. Considering how infrequently he’s being used right now, the A’s might as well see if they can get something back in return for him. Ryan Cook was just activated from the disabled list and adds depth to the right-handed relief corps. Lefty Eric O’Flaherty is expected to return from his Tommy John rehab in roughly a month, providing more bullpen reinforcement. The A’s seemingly can afford to cut ties with Johnson from a baseball standpoint.
One last point, to answer a question that many might be wondering: Trading draft picks? They do that in baseball? They do now.
Starting last season, MLB added Competitive Balance draft picks to try to help small-market and low-revenue teams. The picks are awarded to teams through a lottery system, and these Competitive Balance picks are the only ones that can be traded. This year, those Competitive Balance picks are overall selections No. 35-41 (taking place after the first round) and picks 69-74 (taking place after the second round).
The A’s, who hold the 25th pick in the first round and 65th in the second round, currently don’t have any of the Competitive Balance picks.