The A’s cut ties with reliever Jim Johnson on Thursday, designating the struggling right-hander for assignment on the heels of his latest rocky outing.
Johnson, who began the season as Oakland’s closer but lost that job just weeks into the season, faced four batters and allowed four runs in the A’s 9-7 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday. He leaves Oakland with a 6.92 ERA and opponents’ batting average of .353, both highest among major-league relievers.
Johnson arrived with high expectations after saving 101 games for Baltimore over the past two seasons but never seemed to recover from a poor start, taking a loss in his first outing with the A’s and blowing a save in his second.
“It started out bad for him, and he just couldn’t get into a spot where he could find himself and not have to think about some of the failures,” manager Bob Melvin said Thursday. “It just kept snowballing on him.”
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The A’s signed Johnson to a $10 million deal for this season, and a team that claimed him off waivers would have to take on the remainder of that salary. Johnson has enough MLB service time that if he does clear waivers, he can decline a minor-league assignment and become a free agent.
To replace Johnson, the A’s recalled reliever Evan Scribner from Triple-A Sacramento.
Melvin said he believes Johnson will benefit from a fresh start.
“There’s a human side to all this,” Melvin said. “The performance wasn’t great, but it’s not like he wasn’t accountable.
“I just couldn’t get him in a spot where he could get on a roll, and I feel awful about it, too, because it’s my job to get him in a position to succeed, and it just didn’t happen here. But it’s not like the stuff was any different. He just had a tough time showing consistency.”