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Duquette: Johnson in O's plans for 2014

Baltimore will offer contract to closer, who leads American League in saves

BALTIMORE -- Closer Jim Johnson, one of several arbitration-eligible Orioles who will be getting a big raise in this winter, will be offered a contract for 2014, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said prior to Friday's game against the Red Sox.

"Jim Johnson is one of our core players," said Duquette, who has emphasized keeping that core intact for the organization to sustain success. "Jimmy has done something historic in terms of the numbers of games he's saved over the last couple years, so he's established significant value. He came into the job last year, I think he had nine saves in his career, and over the last two years, he has over 100, 99."

Johnson could earn a salary bump up to the $8 million-9 million range, despite nine blown saves, which is the most in baseball. He became the first Orioles pitcher to record two 40-save seasons last month, and he set a club record with 35 consecutive conversions from July 30, 2012-May 10, 2013. The 29-year-old right-hander made $6.5 million in 2013 -- a significant jump up from his $2.625 million salary the year prior -- with the two sides agreeing to middle ground (Johnson's camp requested $7.1 million and the Orioles countered with $5.7 million) on the deal this winter.

Johnson picked up his American League-leading 48th save on Thursday night.

An All-Star in 2012, Johnson hit several rough patches this season, leading to some speculation that he could be a non-tender or trade candidate, but Duquette confirmed Johnson is in the organization's future plans.

"I think Johnson has established himself as a top closer in the business," Duquette said. "When you look at the top save rates in the league, he's right up there."

A club's salary offer to a player under its control may not be less than 80 percent of the player's total compensation from the prior year.

In 72 games, Johnson is 3-8 with a 2.90 ERA.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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