written by frobby
First of all, let me say that I do not believe that Jim Johnson is going to end up getting in excess of $10 mm next season. People seem to be taking MLBTradeRumors' $10.8 mm estimate as if it is gospel, but I think it's off-base and that if JJ tries to go for a salary in excess of $10 mm, the Orioles will go through the arbitration process, beat him, and end up at some number around $9.5 mm or less.
Last year, BP ran a great article in which Bradford Doolittle argued in favor of JJ's $7.1 mm arbitration demand and Nick Faleris (our own Stotle) argued in favor of the team's $5.7 mm offer. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...rticleid=19515 I thought it was extremely well argued on both sides, and JJ and the team ended up splitting the difference at $6.5 mm, which I thought was a fair outcome. Once the agreement was reached, here was Nick's reaction:
"If Johnson logs another 40+ save season, regardless of peripherals,
he's highly likely to net between $8.5-9.25MM in 2014, I'd think
(depending on where average MLB salary shakes out this year)."
I thought that $8.50-9.25 mm projected range was pretty logical, and now that JJ has logged his 50 save, 9 blown save season, I still think that's a logical range from an arbitrator's point of view. I've read MLBTradeRumors' argument for $10.8 mm, but I just don't buy it. There's really no argument that JJ was even close to as good in 2013 as he was in 2012, and the fact that he accumulated 50 saves is mostly just a function of having had far more opportunities than anyone else (JJ had 59 save opportunities, next closest was 51). At the same time, the people who are arguing that JJ is just some middling reliever who happened to be placed in a great spot are wrong. JJ is clearly one of the better relievers in baseball IMO. There are only 19 releivers in MLB who have thrown 180 innings over the last three seasons and have an ERA under 3.00. JJ ranks 14th in ERA on that list (2.70). http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.asp...rs=0&sort=16,a He also has thrown the 2nd-most innings of any reliever in that span, 230. It's also noticeable that he threw at least 68 innings all three years, and had an ERA below 3.00 in all three seasons. People should stop obsessing on JJ's peripherals and focus more on the fact that he has been consistently effective.
I think the plethora of closers who are free agents will work against JJ if he forces the Orioles to arbitrate to keep him under $10 mm. If Fernando Rodney, Grant Balfour, et al. all get less than $10 mm /yr on the open market, how is JJ going to walk into the hearing room and argue with a straight face that he should get $10 mm+?
So, I'm on record as saying JJ won't get $10 mm next year. I'll concede he'll probably get north of $9 mm.
Then the question becomes, is JJ worth $9 mm to the Orioles this season? And I'll admit, that's still kind of a tough sell. If he performs as in 2012 (94% save rate), yeah that's worth $9 mm, probably even more. If he performs as in 2013 (85% save rate), no that's not worth $9 mm, not close. If he perfoms at the average of the two years (89%), I'd say $9 mm is still a little on the rich side.
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