The file on Jim Johnson
2001 MLB Draft
James "Jim" Johnson was a heralded high school prospect out of Union Endicott High School in New York in 2001. The Baltimore Orioles selected the 6-foot-6 right handed pitcher in the fifth round, No. 143 overall. Johnson was drafted three slots after Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, and two spots after Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson.
Life as a starting pitcher
Originally drafted as a starting pitcher, Johnson spent seven seasons in the minors with varying success. He played five seasons of Single-A ball before advancing full-time to Double-A in 2006. In his minor league career Johnson went 46-40 with a 3.86 ERA in 144 appearances -- 127 starts. By the time he made it to the majors in 2008, Johnson transitioned to relief pitching.
Setting up success
Johnson thrived as a reliever for the Orioles. He threw 18 consecutive scoreless innings in 2008 and appeared in 118 games in the the 2008-'09 seasons. After an injury set him back in 2010, Johnson returned in 2011 to lead the O's with 69 appearances. He had a 2.67 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 91 innings as the primary setup man to closer Kevin Gregg.
AL leader in saves
Johnson took over the closer role for the Orioles at the start of the 2012 season. In May, the New York native won the Delivery Man of the Month Award after he gave up two runs -- both solo home runs -- with nine saves in 12.2 innings pitched. Johnson made his first All-Star appearance in 2012 to go along with a franchise record 51 saves. Johnson enjoyed much of the same success in 2013, but struggled at times. In the month of May he threw 12 innings and ceded 13 earned runs. He finished the 2013 season with a 2.94 ERA, and an AL-best 50 saves in 59 opportunities.
Trade to Oakland
The A's acquired Johnson from the Orioles on Dec. 2, 2013 in exchange for infielder Jemile Weeks. Johnson was deemed the heir apparent to former closer Oakland Grant Balfour, who left in free agency. The A's avoided arbitration with their new closer by agreeing to a one-year, $10 million contract on Jan. 16, 2014.
Rough start in Oakland
Johnson opened the 2014 season as the Athletics' closer, but the 6-foot-6 righty was removed from the role after two blown saves and a loss in his first five outings. In a scoreless tie against the Cleveland Indians on Opening Day, manager Bob Melvin summoned Johnson from the bullpen for the ninth inning. In his outing in Green and Gold, Johnson loaded the bases with no outs before ceding two runs in 1/3 of an inning. Johnson was pulled, got the loss and was subsequently booed by the home fans. Through his first five appearances, Johnson gave up seven earned runs, nine hits and six walks before he was demoted.