The Orioles are trying hard to trade closer Jim Johnson, and the Dodgers are in the mix, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Johnson is projected to earn $10.8MM in arbitration this offseason by our own Matt Swartz.
Johnson, 30, posted a 2.94 ERA this season with 7.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 58 percent ground-ball rate. His 50 saves led the American League and tied Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel for the Major League lead. Over the past two seasons, no pitcher has amassed more saves than Johnson's total of 101.
The Orioles have been linked to some big-name free agents like Carlos Beltran and Jhonny Peralta (prior to his agreement with St. Louis), but their budget constraints make it difficult for them to pursue such marquee names. Shedding Johnson's salary (or at least the bulk of it) could allow Baltimore to be more aggressive on the free agent market.
The Dodgers, of course, have the game's deepest pockets, which should mean they're more than capable of absorbing Johnson's big salary. GM Ned Colletti showed he's not afraid to spend big on relievers last offseason by signing Brandon League to a three-year, $22.5MM contract, though it's fair to wonder if that contract will serve as a cautionary tale and dampen the team's interest in Johnson. The Dodger bullpen figures to be anchored by strikeout wizard Kenley Jansen, so a Johnson acquisition would likely push one solid closer into a setup role.