O's, reliever Jim Johnson avoid arbitration with $2.625 million deal

Orioles reliever Jim Johnson, who saved nine games in 2011 including his final eight opportunities, has settled his potential arbitration case with the Orioles.

According to an industry source, Johnson has agreed to a 2012 contract worth $2.625 million. That is up from the $975,000 he made in 2011. It was Johnson’s second shot at arbitration. He also settled last offseason.

The 28-year-old Johnson, who was 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA, set career highs as an Oriole last season in wins, innings pitched (91) and strikeouts (58). He is the favorite to be the team’s closer in 2012, though it’s still possible he could be moved to the rotation if the Orioles sign an established closer.

The Orioles now have four arbitration-eligible players heading into Tuesday’s noon deadline for exchanging numbers. They are outfielder Adam Jones, infielder Robert Andino and pitchers Brad Bergesen and Jeremy Guthrie.

The club has settled with Johnson, Dana Eveland ($750,000) and Darren O’Day ($1.35 million).

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