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Johnson traded to Angels for Minor Leaguer

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

Alex Anthopoulos' first player transaction as Braves general manager offered a measure of salary relief. The Braves on Thursday dealt reliever Jim Johnson and international pool money to the Angels for Minor League left-hander Justin Kelly, thus completing Anthopoulos' first move since becoming GM earlier this month.

Johnson, 34, was Atlanta's closer for the first four months of the season, but blew nine of his 31 save opportunities and compiled a 5.56 ERA in 56 2/3 innings. The 2017 season was one of the poorest of the 12-year veteran's career.

Alex Anthopoulos' first player transaction as Braves general manager offered a measure of salary relief. The Braves on Thursday dealt reliever Jim Johnson and international pool money to the Angels for Minor League left-hander Justin Kelly, thus completing Anthopoulos' first move since becoming GM earlier this month.

Johnson, 34, was Atlanta's closer for the first four months of the season, but blew nine of his 31 save opportunities and compiled a 5.56 ERA in 56 2/3 innings. The 2017 season was one of the poorest of the 12-year veteran's career.

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Over that career with the Orioles, A's, Tigers, Dodgers and Braves, Johnson has posted a 3.79 ERA with 176 saves, 11th among active pitchers. He led the Majors with 101 saves for the Orioles from 2012-13.

Dealing Johnson relieves Atlanta from his $5 million in salary and further indicates that the club is likely going to be in the market for bullpen arms this winter -- perhaps even pursuing names as high-profile as free-agent closers Wade Davis or Greg Holland. Arodys Vizcaino, who replaced Johnson as closer, was shaky down the stretch. And while A.J. Minter showed promise, striking out 17 of the final 31 batters he faced, his Major League experience totals just 15 innings.

Although the Braves also parted with international bonus pool space in the deal, that is of relatively little consequence to them. Due to MLB sanctions stemming from former GM John Coppolella's violation of signing rules, the Braves cannot sign any player for more than $300,000 during the next international signing period, nor for more than $10,000 in the period after that.

Kelly, 24, pitched at five levels of the Angels' system last year, going 6-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 25 games, including six starts. He did not rank among the Angels' Top 30 Prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

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