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With Jim Johnson's tenure in Oakland likely over, it's unclear if Orioles will pursue him

SEATTLE -- Former Orioles closer Jim Johnson's beleaguered tenure with the Oakland Athletics looks as if it may have come to a close.

Johnson, who allowed four runs (three earned) Wednesday without recording an out, was designated for assignment by Oakland on Thursday. The Athletics now have 10 days to trade, release or pass him through waivers.

Asked whether the Orioles would have interest in Johnson, Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn't reveal the club's specific plans.

“That's completely in Oakland's hands now,” Showalter said. “They have nine or 10 days to trade him, and I'm sure there will be people who have interest in Jimmy. … It was painful to watch because we think so much of Jimmy. He did some good things for us.

“I’m sure that will play out [like it does] most of the time unless [Oakland general manager] Billy [Beane] gets a deal he likes,” Showalter said.

The Orioles have previously had interest in a reunion with Johnson, but it's unclear if they'll pursue him this time.

Johnson’s total salary this year is $10 million, which was the main reason why he was traded to Oakland in December in a deal for second baseman Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas. Both players currently are at Norfolk.

If Oakland is able to find a trade partner, that team would on the hook for the remainder of Johnson’s 2014 salary. Given the fact that Johnson is still due roughly $3.8 million for the remainder of the year, that’s unlikely unless the Athletics cover a significant portion.

It doesn’t make much sense to put Johnson through waivers because the claiming team would assume his remaining salary and must keep him at the major league level. And if he did clear waivers, Johnson can refuse an outright assignment to the minors based on his service time.

However, if the Athletics release him, Johnson would become a free agent and be able to sign a minor league or major league deal with any team.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette doesn't comment on players who are still property of other teams, which Johnson is until the Athletics make a move with him, but he said the club is always looking to upgrade.

“We look at all players available to see if there is a fit with the O's,” Duquette said.

Johnson, who had at least 50 saves for the Orioles in each of the past two seasons, was 4-2 with a 6.92 ERA in 38 games for the Athletics this year, losing his closer job quickly after struggling to a 18.90 ERA through his first five appearances.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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