The 2017 season was not kind to Jim Johnson, as the 34-year-old reliever floundered his way to a 5.52 ERA across 56.2 innings of work. While there were reasons for optimism based on his reasonable peripherals, the Atlanta Braves likely weren’t overjoyed by the prospect of paying Johnson in the second year of a two-year, $10 million contract extension signed prior to last season.
On Thursday afternoon, the Braves announced a deal that would take that obligation away in sending the veteran right-hander to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for 24-year-old left-hander Justin Kelly.
As noted in the release, the Braves will also be sending “international pool space” to the Angels as part of the deal and that was likely critical in enticing Los Angeles to pull the trigger here. In Kelly, Atlanta is acquiring is acquiring a player who moved (very) quickly through the Angels’ system last season, appearing at five (!) levels and posting reasonable statistics.
It remains to be seen as to just what the Braves are acquiring in this deal and there is time to evaluate Kelly in the future. For now, the takeaway remains that Jim Johnson will not enter the 2018 campaign as a member of the Braves and Atlanta’s payroll will be reduced (at least for now) as a result.