A’s release Jim Johnson, eat $10 million salary

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Oakland has released right-hander Jim Johnson after designated him for assignment last week, meaning the A’s are on the hook for his entire $10 million salary.

It’s no surprise that none of the other 29 teams claimed Johnson and his contract off waivers, but there was seemingly a chance that the A’s could find a taker for the one-time closer if they agreed to eat most of the money.

Instead now he’s a free agent and able to sign with any team for whatever he can get, so expect some interest in Johnson as a buy-low candidate. He saved 50-plus games in each of the previous two seasons, leading the league both years, but this season Johnson posted a 6.92 ERA in 38 appearances for the A’s while almost immediately being stripped of closing duties.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.