Braves reliever Johnson’s deal: 2 years, $10 million


Veteran reliever Jim Johnson will make at least $10 million under the terms of the two-year contract extension he signed with the Braves Oct. 2 on the final day of the regular season.

Johnson, who could”ve become a free agent, instead re-upped with Atlanta, getting a $1 million signing bonus and a $4.5 million salary for each of the next two seasons, a person familiar with the negotiation confirmed. The contract was finalized last week when he took and passed a physical examination.

Johnson can make additional performances bonuses worth up to $1.75 million annually, bonuses that are basically tied to how much he serves in the closer role and how long he stays healthy. He gets $250,000 for finishing 30 games, plus an additional $250,000 for each additional five games finished up to 60 per season.

For example, Johnson would get $1 million in bonus money if he finished 45 games in a season. Braves general manager John Coppolella said after the extension was announced that Johnson would enter spring training in the closer role, but that emphasized that could change at any time during the season or the course of the contract.

Johnson had a 3.06 ERA and 19 saves in 65 appearances during the 2016 season, with 68 strikeouts and 20 walks in 64 2/3 innings. He excelled after moving from a setup role back to full-time closer in the second half of the season, following the early season trade of Jason Grilli and subsequent injuries to closer Arodys Vizcaino.

He had a 1.65 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 12 walks in 49 innings over his final 48 games in 2016.

The sinkerballer has a 2.72 ERA and 29 saves in 114 appearances for the Braves over two seasons, with 101 strikeouts and 34 walks in 112 2/3 innings.

Johnson said after signing the extension that his success working with pitching coach Roger McDowell over most of two seasons played a big part in his decision to re-sign with Atlanta. McDowell will not be back with the Braves in 2017 after the team declined to pick up an option on his contract, a decision announced five days after the season ended.

The Braves promoted minor league pitching coordinator Chuck Hernandez to the major league pitching coach position, a job he previously held with four other teams.

Johnson collected 51 saves for the Orioles in 2012 and 50 saves in 2013, then had a career-worst season for Oakland and Detroit in 2014 (combined 7.09 ERA) before signing a $1.6 million deal with Atlanta and having a career resurgence in 2015.

After posting a 2.25 ERA in 49 appearances with the Braves in the first four months of the 2015 season, he was traded to the Dodgers and had a 10.13 ERA in 23 games and was left off their playoff roster. Johnson had double-hernia surgery in the offseason and re-signed with the Braves in November for $2.5 million.


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