Jim Johnson Trade Rumors: Assembling Perfect Dodgers Trade Package

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Jim Johnson Trade Rumors: Assembling Perfect Dodgers Trade Package
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The Baltimore Orioles are shopping All-Star closer Jim Johnson, with the Los Angeles Dodgers looking like a potential trade partner.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports broke the news that the two teams are interested in doing business together via Twitter:

It's no surprise that the Dodgers are interested in Johnson, as he has led the majors in saves over he past two seasons with 101.

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The Dodgers could use some consistency at closer after five different players converted a save for them in 2013.

Los Angeles started the year with Brandon League as its closer but eventually ended up with Kenley Jansen.

While Jansen proved to be a very solid closer as the year progressed, he wasn't good enough to stop the Dodgers from looking into going after another man to end games.

Having Jansen as a setup man for Johnson would give the Dodgers a nasty back end of the bullpen, so it makes sense that the Dodgers would be one of the teams in discussion with the O's about Johnson.

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The Dodgers may have a problem when it comes to adding Johnson to their roster, however, as he is owed more than $10 million in 2014.

While Los Angeles doesn't have a problem spending money, the team is already committed to spend over $185 million in 2014 to just 15 players, according to Baseball Prospectus.

However, that $185 million is much lower than what the team is actually looking at. Buster Olney of ESPN reported that the team offered Clayton Kershaw a deal approaching a record-breaking $300 million earlier, and Kershaw has yet to be signed.

Adding another guy who is owed $10 million would make it certain that the Dodgers will have a payroll of more than $200 million once again in 2014 after spending nearly $217 million in 2013, per Baseball Prospectus.

In fact, adding Johnson and signing Kershaw to a major deal could have the Dodgers spending in the neighborhood of $250 million.

Apart from payroll concerns, the Dodgers would need to put together a nice package to entice the Orioles to part ways with their closer.

The Dodgers obviously aren't going to give up one of their best prospects for a guy who becomes a free agent after the 2014 season. However, they are going to have to give the Orioles some value if they are going to acquire one of the top closers in the game today.

The first part of the package must be a talented prospect who entices the Orioles into negotiation.

The Dodgers must prove that they are willing to part with a good prospect to show that they are serious about getting Johnson. That prospect should either be a pitcher to replace Johnson or a first baseman, as Baltimore lacks any talented first base prospects.

The Dodgers have the same issue with first basemen, however, so the team should instead offer RHP Ross Stripling.

The 23-year-old Stripling had a good second year in the minors in 2013, moving from A+ to Double-A ball and pitching well at both levels.

Ross Stripling 2013 Stats (Minor Leagues)
Level GP W-L ERA WHIP
A+ 6 2-0 2.94 1.040
AA 21 6-4 2.78 1.170
Total 27 8-4 2.82 1.136

Baseball-Reference

After such an impressive 2013 campaign, Stripling has to be considered one of the better prospects that the Dodgers have. However, he is the type of prospect that needs to be in this deal if the Orioles are going to let Johnson go.

The other part of this deal is finding a guy that the Orioles have some interest in to push this trade over the edge.

It shouldn't be hard for the Dodgers to find someone who likely won't help them much in 2014 but could be in a position to play for the Orioles.

With great depth in the outfield (Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier), the Dodgers really don't need a guy like Scott Van Slyke.

After playing in 53 games in 2013 and proving to be a serviceable option (.240 batting average, seven home runs), Van Slyke could potentially see a lot of playing time in Baltimore.

The Orioles might be saying goodbye to outfielders Mike Morse and Nate McLouth, both of whom are free agents. If even one of these two signs with another team, the Orioles will have a hole on their roster in the outfield.

Van Slyke can fill that hole.

Harry How/Getty Images

If the Dodgers are willing to give up Stripling in this deal, parting ways with Van Slyke will be easy.

The 27-year-old outfielder wouldn't play much for the team anyway, so it really comes down to whether or not the team thinks Johnson is worth Stripling.

The Dodgers have already shown their interest in Johnson, and if they are serious about pursuing him, trading Stripling and Van Slyke could be enough to acquire the talented closer.

 

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