Without it being known, the Miami Marlins' front office quietly sought to revamp one of baseball's inconsistent bullpens. Miami's bullpen ERA ranks 23rd among all major league clubs, and the front office made it a priority to fix the problem.
Miami sent a draft pick to the Pirates in exchange for reliever Bryan Morris, and added Kevin Gregg with the money saved. But according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Marlins were prepared to make a trade with the Oakland Athletics that would have sent Jim Johnson to Miami.
Oakland is only selecting twice in the first 100 picks of the draft, and would have welcomed the top 40 pick.
The Athletics were willing to make the deal – Johnson and cash for the No. 39 pick and another player – but the Marlins instead used the pick to land Morris, sources said.
Johnson, who was acquired by Oakland in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles, has struggled early. In 22 innings pitched, Johnson has posted a 6.55 ERA to complement a 3.65 FIP. Before joining Oakland, Johnson posted consecutive 50 save seasons.
Since he has experience as a closer, trading for Johnson would have made sense for the Marlins. They sought an arm with major league experience, but Johnson's walk and strikeout rates have drastically increased and decreased, respectively.
Johnson wouldn't have come cheap, but Rosenthal notes that the Athletics would have been willing to pay for the bulk of his $6.5 million dollar salary. The pick traded to acquire Morris is valued at $1.4 million.
Both Morris and Gregg have major league experience (Gregg as a closer), and the pair come at a reasonable cost. Miami's payroll, while at the bottom of the league standings, reportedly didn't want to take a hit at the expense of adding bullpen arms.
The signing of Gregg after the trade with Pittsburgh has been met with speculation because of the inability for the Marlins to just sign the right-handed reliever. If the Marlins added Gregg and traded for Johnson, the bullpen may have been in better shape.
Some reports indicated that the A's sought another player in additon to the pick, which may have made any deal no longer attractive for the Marlins.
Johnson has been consistent throughout his career, and his numbers may change for the better in the coming months.
The desire to make a trade for Johnson came after the Marlins were "aggressively pursuing bullpen help" last weekend, which at the very least proves that the Marlins are still confident in their chances to win and want to fill any holes as soon as possible.
Johnson lost the closing job in Oakland, but still would have been a quality veteran addition. Miami's moves prove Jeffrey Loria indirectly still controls personnel decisions.