The Orioles have traded Jim Johnson to the Oakland Athletics for second baseman Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.
Johnson, who saved 101 games over the past two seasons but blew nine saves last year, was in line to make more than $10 million in arbitration according to some estimates.
The Orioles have been trying to trade him in recent days to clear salary to go after free agents.
The trade was completed just ahead of the midnight deadline for tendering contracts.
“Sometimes you have to make tough decisions,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said early Tuesday morning.
“We have to allocate our resources to be competitive year-in and year-out and to be competitive in 2014.”
Duquette called Johnson, who was the Orioles’ fifth-round draft pick in 2001 and made his debut with team in 2006, to tell him the news.
“Jim said he had a lot to digest,” Duquette said. “This has been his team. We wanted to thank him for the work he did.”
Johnson, the team’s player representative was on his way to union meetings when he heard the news, Duquette said. “These are always tough calls.”
The 30-year-old Johnson finishes his Orioles career with a record of 18-26 and a 3.11 ERA. His 122 saves were second in team history.
Weeks, the younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, batted .303 in 97 games in 2011 for Oakland. In 2012, Weeks slumped to .221 in 118 games with two home runs and 20 RBIs. Last year, the 26-year-old was 1-for-9 in eight games with the Athletics. He hit .271 in 130 games for Sacramento.
“Jemile Weeks is a talented player. He’s a good on-base man. He’s a switch-hitter who is a good base stealer and a good base runner,” Duquette said.
Duquette said that Weeks is a particularly good hitter against right-handers and can also play short and center field.
The Orioles offered contracts to six arbitration-eligible players: Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Bud Norris, Brian Matusz, Troy Patton and Matt Wieters.
Meanwhile the team agreed on a one-year contract with oft-injured outfielder Nolan Reimold. Reimold, who has been limited to 56 games the last two years, signed for a reported $1.025 million plus incentives.
Reimold has had two neck surgeries since June 2012, and there had been speculation that the team might non-tender him, but the Orioles have avoided arbitration with him for the second straight season.
After playing in just 16 games in 2012, Reimold was given a raise from $490,500 to $1 million. The Orioles admire Reimold’s determination to come back from his injuries, and with Nate McLouth a free agent, they don’t have another left fielder.
In 2013, Reimold batted .195 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 40 games. He underwent his second surgery in July.
The Orioles also avoided arbitration by re-signing outfielder Steve Pearce to a one-year contract for a reported $700,000.
They did not offer contracts to outfielder Jason Pridie or pitcher Eddie Gamboa.
The 40-man roster is at 37.