There has been speculation for weeks that the Orioles might try to move closer Jim Johnson to avoid paying him $10 million or so in salary arbitration, but the deal that sent him to the Oakland A's on Monday night raises as many questions as it answers and has to leave O's fans wondering just what is going on in the Warehouse.
It's fair to debate whether Johnson is worth that much after a season in which he saved at least 50 games for the second straight year, but also left way too many potential victories unclosed. You can make the case that if he had suffered just an average number of blown saves for a top-flight closer, the Orioles might have made the playoffs for the second straight season.
Still, when the Oakland A's are the team taking your salary dump, what does that say about the commitment of Orioles ownership to continue building a strong AL East contender?
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Johnson struggled at times last season, but it's not like the Orioles have a big surplus of good arms in the bullpen. The only way this makes sense is if Dan Duquette has a truly significant pitching move up his sleeve and springs it soon.
So far, the Orioles have restocked their 40-man roster with a group of unknown soldiers after a season in which they made big gains in attendance and broadcast ratings. It would seem like a logical time to use some of that additional revenue to add a couple of decent free agents, but -- so far -- it looks like the front office is under orders to hold down the payroll.
If that's a prelude to an early contract extension for Matt Wieters or Chris Davis, maybe it makes some sense. If Duquette is about to reel in a quality closer who will cost millions less, there might be a method to this madness.
Right now, however, the thing that stands out was Duquette's October promise that Johnson would be tendered a contract.
He either changed his mind or was overruled, but he certainly wasn't overwhelmed by a deal for Weeks and a minor league player to be named later.
This offseason gets curiouser and curiouser.