Jim Johnson has bounced back this year to be the great reliever the Orioles saw out of him a few years ago. Lets face it, the Orioles bullpen has been terrible this year. Its extremely sad that the only two bright spots are two guys who are free agents at the end of this season. Both Koji and Johnson have produced numbers that the Orioles must replace next year if they ever want to have a respectable record. The two of them have had similar seasons and also have similar value at the trade deadline. Koji is much older, has an option, and is a type A free agent, while Johnson is much younger, and isn’t ranked on the Elias rankings. This means that whoever acquires Koji will get a first round pick the next season, but Jim Johnson comes with no pick. The fact that Johnson is much younger and healthier than Koji makes up for the fact that Koji would come with a pick. For that reason I think they have similar value at the deadline. But the Orioles seem a little more hesitant to trade Johnson because of his youth and the hope that they can resign him next year. For a team to acquire Johnson they may have to give up a little more than they would to get Koji. With that being said lets take a look at what the O’s can get for Johnson. The names and teams will be similar to those of Koji’s, but there are some differences.
Pittsburgh Pirates- They are in on almost every tradable Oriole this year. We should just give them a big package and give them Guthrie/Koji/Johnson/Lee for a big piece. But of course thats only wishful thinking. The usual names come up here. Brad Lincoln, Ross Ohlendorf, and Daniel Moskos, plus minor leaguers Setson Allie, Luis Heredia, Bryan Morris, Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke, Zack Von Rosenberg, and Starling Marte. Check out the Koji Uehara article for more information on all these guys. I would think that Brad Lincoln would be a must have in a deal for Johnson. Because of his increased value I’m not sure the O’s would only accept minor leaguers with no experience.
Minnesota Twins- It has to be Kevin Slowey here. The Twins are interested in selling Slowey and the O’s are interested. When the O’s call the Twins will say they want Koji and/or Johnson. As my prelude says the O’s would rather move Koji, so he would go first. If the Twins insist on Johnson I think the O’s do it. Anthony Swarzak is still a possibility, but Minnesota may not want to move him for only rental relievers. I could see the O’s being surprising suitors for Denard Span or Delmon Young and it may take Koji or Johnson plus someone like Reimold and a lower prospect to get it done. Sometimes at the deadline surprise teams jump in for players like this who have multiple years left on their contract. I wouldn’t put money on the Orioles being that team with Span, but that’s mainly because I personally feel Span isn’t too great of a player. If a contender wants to ship their supposed “star” center fielder while they need offense now more than any point in the last decade then there is a problem with him. Knowing how great of talent evaluators the Twins are I would trust their judgement. All I’m saying is don’t be completely shocked if you hear Oriole’s/Span trade rumors before Sunday.
Texas Rangers- The same guys that I mention for Koji apply here. Tommy Hunter, Scott Feldman, Michael Kirkman. With Texas being the favorite to acquire Heath Bell its looking less and less likely that they deal with the O’s for bullpen help.
Detroit Tigers- Another team who is in on almost every Oriole prospect. Guthrie is going to be traded to them. Mark my words. Will they get the O’s to include some bullpen help in the deal? Without Johnson Detroit would probably be forced to deal Andy Oliver or Charlie Furbush. I’ve said that many times. In a combined deal with Jim Johnson maybe the Orioles can ask for a young outfielder like Brennan Boesch, Andy Dirks, or Austin Jackson. With them being in contention its hard to see them deal anyone who they think will help them win this year. Only disposable players who don’t fit for this season would work. That kind of eliminates both Boesch and Jackson. Dirks is a solid 25 year old outfielder with some pop and some decent speed too. He is pretty good at all 5 tools. Boesch has become a near All-Star but a deal like Guthrie/Reimold/Johnson could put it over the top. Never say never.
Cincinnati Reds- Most “experts” think they are quickly falling out of contention and will now be sellers. HA! At only 6.5 out and over 2 months to go the Reds are not done. The Reds have more talent than any team in that division and could hit a 6 game winning streak at any time. Walt Jocketty is one of the best GM’s in all of baseball and gets very creative at the deadline. One year he traded for Scott Rolen and acted like a buyer when they were way out. So I think the Reds will do quite the opposite of what most people are starting to think and they will buy buy buy. I think now is the time they pull off a good 3 trades including one for Ubaldo Jimenez. And I can see them targeting Koji or Johnson for relief help as well. Edinson Volquez and Chris Heisey may require package deals, but aren’t impossible. Sam Lecure is a likely target still. If nothing else Lecure can turn into a fine reliever much like Jim Johnson.
Atlanta Braves- There really aren’t a whole lot of fits with this team because their prospects are too good. They will probably deal Minor or Beachy or Lowe, or multiple because they want room for the #1 pitching prospect in all of baseball Julio Teheran to come up and start. Brandon Beachy would be very intriguing to the Orioles and would probably take a couple pieces including either Koji or Jim Johnson. I still like the idea of targeting another one of their good pitching prospects Brett Oberholtzer.
New York Yankees- Still hard to see the O’s dealing within division. Ivan Nova and Andrew Brackman are still the guys that could be available in deals like this.
Philadelphia Phillies- Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick still apply. Vance Worley is getting better and better and may soon be untouchable for them. For now you have to imagine they will consider selling high on him for a bat or bullpen help.
Arizona Diamondbacks- I’ve mentioned this team in a few different articles and Wade Miley continues to be the only guy I can find that would work.
Overall I think Koji gets traded and Jim Johnson stays. Because he has no Elias value he doesn’t give a team a draft pick and the Orioles have a better chance of keeping him and resigning him. If the Orioles are admist a nice package deal with Guthrie and the team wants Johnson and not Koji, I think the O’s do it. That’s the only way I see Johnson going. I don’t think your going to see a 1 for 1 trade for Johnson to a contending team for a prospect. The O’s have to have no choice but to move him.