To recap a busy day and night, the Orioles tendered contracts to six of their arbitration-eligible players: catcher Matt Wieters, first baseman Chris Davis, and pitchers Tommy Hunter, Bud Norris, Brian Matusz and Troy Patton. They reached agreements on one-year deals with outfielders Nolan Reimold ($1.025 million) and Steve Pearce ($850,000). They traded closer Jim Johnson to the Athletics for infielder Jemile Weeks and a PTBNL. And they non-tendered outfielder Jason Pridie and knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa, leaving them with 37 players on their 40-man roster.
Got all that?
The PTBNL will come from Oakland’s farm system. An announcement is expected to be made following the Rule 5 draft.
Weeks, 26, batted .271/.376/.369 with 17 stolen bases in 130 games for Triple-A Sacramento in 2013. The 12th overall selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Miami, Weeks is a career .282/.375/.402 hitter in 361 minor league games over six seasons in the Oakland system.
Weeks has batted .258/.319/.357 in 223 games in the majors. As a rookie in 2011, he hit .303/.340/.421 with 22 steals in 97 games. He’s a career .259/.321/.351 hitter vs. right-handers, and a .256/.316/.367 hitter vs. left-handers. And yes, his brother is Brewers infielder Rickie Weeks.
“Jemile is a switching-hitting middle infield, and he’s a good baserunner and bases-stealer,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette. “He’s good at getting on base, especially against right-handed pitching. And this past season, in addition to playing second base, he saw significant time in center field and occasionally played shortstop and was the DH. He has some versatility to help the ballclub. We think he’s a good addition. He has a lot of good qualities to help the team.”
The Orioles haven’t decided on a second baseman. Weeks apparently will compete for the job, but he isn’t regarded as the frontrunner. He’s simply in the mix at the moment.
Johnson, 30, recorded 50 saves in 59 opportunities this year while going 3-8 with a 2.94 ERA in 70 1/3 innings and 74 appearances. He’s recorded 101 saves in the past two seasons.
Going to Oakland will be quite an adjustment for Johnson, a New York native who was drafted by the Orioles in the fifth round in 2001 and currently resides in Sarasota.
“Jim Johnson came up through the farm system and spent his entire career with the team,” Duquette said. “We appreciate all the work he did for us and the contribution he made to the Orioles, and we wish him a lot of luck.”
Johnson is projected to make $10-$11 million in arbitration, a figure the Orioles considered too steep for a closer. They clearly were intent on clearing out a big contract in order to move forward with other roster moves.
“In order to have a competitive team, you have to allocate your resources so you’re strong in a number of different areas, and sometimes you have to reach a figure with your resources to meet the needs in other areas that will help us to be competitive in 2014,” Duquette said.
“If you remember the start of the 2012 season, the club was looking for an established closer. In spring training of 2012. And Jim Johnson emerged and did a nice job in that role. Our job now will be to find another dependable pitcher who can help the team hold onto games.”
Asked whether the Orioles will stay in-house or look outside the organization, Duquette chuckled and replied, “Yes.”
“We’ve got some time to work on that,” he said. “We’ve got some more work to do to staff our team for 2014.”
Duquette also said the Orioles removed Pridie and Gamboa from the 40-man roster to create more room for later additions.