Orioles and Jim Johnson avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles and closer Jim Johnson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.5 million contract. He could earn an additional $50,000 based on games finished.

Johnson requested $7.1 million and was offered $5.7 million from the Orioles when arbitration figures were exchanged last month, so the two sides settled for a little over the midpoint. The 29-year-old right-hander made just $2.625 million last season, but his salary will more than double for 2013 after he posted a 2.49 ERA and led the majors with 51 saves.

Johnson was arbitration-eligible for the third time this winter, but because he was a Super Two player, he’ll remain under team control through 2014. That means he’ll likely have another healthy jump in pay next winter.

 

The Mets will not commit to Matt Harvey making his next start

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Matt Harvey has had a bad and injury-filled couple of years. He hit spring training in decent physical shape, however, and there was much talk about a possible Harvey Renaissance. At times in February, March and in his first start in early April he looked alright too.

That has changed, however. Over his last three starts he has allowed 14 runs on 25 hits in 16 innings, with his latest stinker being last night’s six runs on eight hits outing against the Braves. The poor pitching has resulted in Mets manager Mickey Calloway not committing to Harvey taking his next turn in the rotation. Or, as Ken Davidoff reports in the Post, not commenting when asked if Harvey would, indeed, make his next start.

It’s bad enough when the manager will not make such a commitment, but the Mets pitching coach, Dave Eiland, made comments after the game suggesting the possibility of the Mets putting Harvey in the bullpen. The comments were not pointed, but this suggests his thinking, I’d assume:

While neither Callaway nor Eiland would tip his hand about Harvey’s immediate future, Eiland, who most recently worked for the Royals, smiled when a reporter asked him if he had ever switched a starter to the bullpen under duress. “Yeah, a guy by the name of Wade Davis,” he said. “It turned out pretty well for him.”

That’s a generous way of putting it and, for Harvey, such comments could soften the blow to his ego if, indeed, the club decides to move him to the bullpen. It’s not a demotion, he could claim, it’s the team giving him a chance to regain his past stardom in a different role!

However, whether it was because he was stinging from a poor performance or because he simply hates the idea, Harvey seemed to reject the possibility out of hand, saying, “I’m a starting pitcher. I’ve always been a starting pitcher. That’s my mindset.”

Looks like he’s either going to have to change his mindset or else he’s not going to have a place to pitch in New York for very much longer.