Jim Johnson has officially broken out. He dominated as the Baltimore Orioles full-time closer last season, and he will be paid for that dominance. Johnson and the Orioles have agreed to a one-year deal that will allow both sides to avoid arbitration. And the Orioles announced that they had avoided arbitration with starting pitcher Jason Hammel as well. His deal is said to be worth $6.75 million.
The deal for Johnson, which includes $50k in performance benefits, could be worth $7 million says Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Johnson will at least $3.9 million more than he did last season, and could bring home up to $4.4 million more. That's quite the payday for the 29-year old.
Jim Johnson will make $6.5 million in 2013 with $50,000 more available in performance bonuses based on games finished.— Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) February 9, 2013
Hammel's deal, which was reported by numerous sources including Roch Kubatko of MASN, will get the Orioles one step closer to avoiding arbitration with all of their players.
#orioles also agree to terms with Jason Hammel.— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) February 9, 2013
Johnson has been a part of the Orioles organization since they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2001 draft. However, he has not been a household name for much of his career. In his first six seasons, save opportunities were rare for the lefty. He was known as a solid reliever, but he wasn't given the full-time closer job until 2012. And when he was given the job, he blew everyone away.
Related: Bye, Bye Joe Saunders.
Last season, Johnson pitched in 71 games and had 51 saves. He posted a 2.49 ERA to lower his overall career ERA to 3.14. Johnson proved he could shoulder the load of being the Orioles' closer of the future. He has now posted back-to-back seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA. That will be important for him going forward.
Although Johnson is older than the Oriole would probably like their long-term closer to be, he should get serious consideration for a multi-year deal during the season. The Orioles made it to the postseason with Johnson shutting the door in the ninth inning. They protected one-run leads like no other team in baseball. That had everything to do with Johnson who only blew three saves throughout the entire season.
The Orioles will look to make another run at the postseason this year. They have most of their core returning, and they have plenty of player whom the front office will be looking at for long-term extension. Johnson will surely be one of them.
Hammel started 20 games for the Orioles last season. He posted a solid 3.43 ERA in those starts and went 8-6 on the season. Hammel provides the Orioles a veteran starter and proved last season that he can help the team win. In his career, Hammel has 4.78 ERA. It's important to remember, though, that despite the humidor of recent years, Hammel still pitched a lot of his games in the hitter-paradise of Coors Field.