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 Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.