Tigers To Sign Jim Johnson

The Tigers have agreed to a minor league deal with righty Jim Johnson, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. The longtime Orioles closer lost his 9th-inning gig not long after joining the Athletics this year, and was ultimately released by Oakland.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles

It’s obviously a low-risk move for Detroit, which has dedicated plenty of attention to shoring up the pen. Johnson can audition and provide depth in the minors, while of course also providing that always elusive late-inning experience if the need arises down the stretch.

Johnson has never been an outright dominant reliever in the sense of maintaining high strikeout rates or wielding unhittable stuff, but he certainly has a history of effectiveness. Still only 31, Johnson racked up three straight seasons of sub-3.00 ERA ball in Baltimore over 2011-13 before hitting a wall with the A’s. Though he continued to induce tons of ground balls with his heavy sinker, Johnson became highly susceptible to the long ball (17.2% HR/FB rate) and suddenly lost his usually solid control (5.13 BB/9).

Johnson had recently worked out for the Orioles, which seemed a natural fit — except for the fact that the big league bullpen really did not have an opening. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweeted last night that Johnson had chosen to sign elsewhere. After taking on his $10MM salary by trade before the year, the A’s will still be responsible for the balance, less only the league minimum rate (for whatever stretch Johnson ends up spending in Detroit).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

32 Responses to Tigers To Sign Jim Johnson Leave a Reply

  1. Would have liked to see him back with the O’s. Well, in Norfolk.

  2. Steve 12 months ago

    Was Jose Valverde not available this year?

  3. What could go wrong?

  4. cgriffith 12 months ago

    Low risk, high reward move. Looking forward to seeing if he can regain his past form. Nice little move.

  5. Frittoman626 12 months ago


  6. letsgogiants 12 months ago

    Johnson pitches well enough in the minors to secure a spot in the Tigers’ bullpen come late August or early September, pitches well enough in the bullpen to get a spot on the postseason roster, pitches decently in the 1st round of the playoffs to make it to the ALCS roster where they face the A’s, then Johnson proceeds to get the loss in Game 7 as well as a blown save (pitching in the 7th) earlier in the series. Johnson proceeds to be one the key Tigers preventing them from advancing, and the A’s get their revenge back on both Johnson and the Tigers.

    • Damon Musha 12 months ago

      …and THAT would be the way the A’s would get the full value out of the contract we gave Jim Johnson!!!

      • Jason Champion 12 months ago

        Wait, I’m confused; is there some sort of money exchange that goes back to the A’s? Or am I falling for sarcasm?

        • letsgogiants 12 months ago

          Nope, just a joke. A’s are still paying his full salary, minus the league minimum that Detroit will be paying if he gets called up.

          • liberalconservative 12 months ago

            If any team trust him in the playoffs they are desperate. He had a few sporadic good innings for the A’s but most of the time it was not good.

  7. jpkinney7 12 months ago

    “They made that move for us” – A’s Players

    • cgriffith 12 months ago

      Athletics need to start worrying about the Angels before the Tigers; don’t put the cart before the horse.

  8. tune-in for baseball 12 months ago

    Interesting that they did not put a claim on local boy lefty Matt Thornton. Seems they feel our leftys will be enough. Johnson is a very low risk/high reward move. He may just need some tinkering and has 3 weeks to prove he deserves to be on the Major League roster. It would be ironic if he turns himself around and helps Detroit get to the World Series and the A’s footing the bill (except league min. salary).

    • cgriffith 12 months ago

      And as it “projects” currently Baltimore vs. Detroit ALDS (very interesting)

    • Mr Pike 12 months ago

      Thornton has almost $4 million guaranteed next year. I suspect they didn’t want to touch that.

  9. Chioakcisco 12 months ago

    Detroit is the Island of Washed-Up Closers. Nathan, Soria, JJ, Hanrahan…I fully expect Bobby Jenks and Byung-Hyun Kim to get tryouts soon.

    • mmiller54 12 months ago

      They could count on Kim to give up homers in the playoffs.

      • Karkat 12 months ago

        And then make obscene gestures at the crowd, as memory serves.

        • Joe Valenti 12 months ago

          Followed finally by wearing socks on his hands during the national anthem to prevent future obscene gestures

    • Karkat 12 months ago

      Haha, I was going to point out the same thing. Detroit is becoming a closers’ graveyeard

    • Mark Kelevara 12 months ago

      That’s funny, they have a NL counter part in the Dodgers, with Wilson, Perez, League…. I’m actually surprised they didn’t jump on Johnson, guess Detroit really is the Island of Washed-Up Closers.

    • Michael 12 months ago

      I would have bet a day’s pay that I was never going to hear the name Bobby Jenks again. Oh, well…

    • Mr Pike 12 months ago

      You forgot Joba Chamberlain.

  10. JerryTheScholar 12 months ago

    At league minimum, why not? When your bullpen is one of the worst in the league, might as well try it out.

  11. Devin Ruffner 12 months ago


  12. jthunder93 12 months ago

    From the second he was released, I told anybody who would listen that the Tigers NEEDED to sign Jim Johnson. I think this is a fantastic move. Pretty much no risk at all. Hopefully, he’ll return to his old form. If he does, that will be a crucial addition to the Tiger bullpen.

  13. musicman495 12 months ago

    I am so glad all the experts here are so sure Johnson is washed up and Dombrowski was foolish to sign him. That was exactly the reaction to the Tigers signing Joba Chamberlain in the off season. If Johnson washes out in 2-3 minor league appearances, no harm done. If he doesn’t, he is a low cost reliever who has gotten big league hitters out in pressure situations in the recent past.

  14. GetToTheChoppa 12 months ago

    If he couldn’t pitch well for the A’s he’s done? What do you base that off of? There’s been tons of pitchers in baseball that flopped for a year or 2 and the found their groove. I guarantee your team has a starter or reliever that flopped somewhere. For example, if you’re a Orioles fan Darren O Day- didn’t make it with the Angels, didn’t make it with Texas, now has a place with the Orioles.

  15. Collateral96 12 months ago

    Darren O’Day was always great in his career except one year so what are you talking about?

  16. GetToTheChoppa 12 months ago

    Except for one year? His first year with the angels was awful. xFIP 4.29, .324 BABIP in 30ish games that year. His second year with the rangers was even worse. While his xFIP was decent he had a 30% HR/FB rate, negative .4 WAR in 16 games. He wasn’t always great. He had a bad year with the angels, 4 good outing with the mets and agreat rest of the year with the Rangers, then an awful time in his second season. Before he got to the Orioles he had equal bad seasons and good.

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