A’s remove $10 million pickup Jim Johnson from closer role

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Oakland general manager Billy Beane raised a lot of eyebrows this offseason when he acquired Jim Johnson from the Orioles and paid him $10 million to serve as the A’s closer. And now, less than two weeks into the season, Johnson has already pitched himself out of the closer role.

Johnson has been a mess, coughing up seven runs while recording 10 total outs and allowing opponents to hit .529 with a 1.145 OPS. And in addition to the 18.90 ERA he’s taken two of the A’s three losses this season.

For now manager Bob Melvin says he plans to go with a closer-by-committee approach and one nice thing about Beane spending so much money and resources building the bullpen is that there are plenty of capable ninth-inning options on the roster, including Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson, and Ryan Cook.

Johnson’s league-leading 50 saves last season masked a whole bunch of struggles for the Orioles and Beane paying $10 million for a so-called “proven closer” seemed very odd, but certainly no one could have expected Johnson to completely fall apart like this. I bet he gets another crack at the job eventually.

The Reds have “jumped into” the J.T. Realmuto sweepstakes

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The Cincinnati Reds have popped up in rumors for a lot of players that one would not normally expect. Free agents like Dallas Keuchel and, earlier, Patrick Corbin. Trade bait like Yasiel Puig. I’m not sure how serious any of that pursuit has been. Maybe it’s just P.R.-driven noise aimed at making Reds fans think the team is going for it or whatever, but it’s been kind of fun. The Reds have, basically, been that guy who shows up in everyone’s photos from the party even though no one knows who he came with or why he was there.

The latest hot stove photobomb for the Reds is Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that they have “jumped into” his trade market.

There seems to be some room to jump, as the talks with the Mets are perceived to have cooled off in the past 24 hours. It’s also the case that the Reds are far more likely to be able to improve via a trade than via the free agent market, as the Reds aren’t as attractive a landing spot as a lot as some other places. Still, given that the Marlins are the trading partner, it will almost certainly cost a lot in prospects or young big league talent to get Realmuto and that’s the sort of talent the Reds should not be in the business of giving up, so it’s hard to see a match.

But hey, the party is fun. Why not hang out for a while?