Peter Gammons: Orioles could non-tender Johnson to avoid arbitration

jim johnson

Today is baseball’s Cyber Monday, the deadline for teams to tender 2014 contracts. One GM says there won’t be many non-tender names because with the escalation in the free agent market, there is little reason to cut debatable salaries. Some of the speculated names? John Axford, Daric Barton, Tommy Hanson…

But there has been some quiet speculation in Baltimore that the Orioles might non-tender Jim Johnson and let him walk rather than risk the $10+M he will likely make in arbitration.

Now, clubs are reluctant to go to eight figures on closers, so even though Johnson has 101 saves and only 33 walks the last two years and is a giant clubhouse presence, he is virtually untradeable, unless Johnson shows up on the Dodgers’ Amazon wish list; And here is another problem: the two options should they dump Johnson are Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day, against whom opposing lefthanded hitters had .857 and .922 OPS numbers. Yich. Maintaining the ability to compete in the American League East on a lower middle class payroll is getting increasingly problematic for the Orioles.