Johnson signed a minor league deal with the Orioles on Saturday, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports. Johnson will return to Baltimore after spending last season with both the Rangers and the Mariners. The right-hander played three seasons in the Orioles' system, compiling a 4.25 ERA in 27 major league games. He was inconsistent for Seattle last season, posting a 4.32 ERA over 12 relief appearances, but dominating hitters in the minors. Expect him to serve as organizational depth at Triple-A Norfolk to begin the year.
Johnson elected free agency rather than accepting his assignment to Triple-A Tacoma, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports. Johnson dominated hitters during his time with Triple-A Tacoma, but his performance in the majors left much to be desired. However, the 29-year-old has a knack for striking out batters, so he could garner some interest on the free agent market, although a minor league contract is the most likely signing route for the right-hander.
Johnson was designated for assignment Friday. Johnson's been lit up lately, giving up seven earned runs over his last 5.1 innings (11.81 ERA), which is a likely reason why Seattle is sending him on assignment. In corresponding roster moves, Jonathan Aro and David Rollins were called up. Johnson will presumably head to Triple-A Tacoma now where he began 2016, repossessing a 2.25 ERA and 0.75 WHIP through 16 innings.
Johnson was lit up for three earned runs on four hits in one inning of work against the Padres on Wednesday. It wasn't a great day for Seattle pitchers, as they combined to allow 14 runs on 19 hits, yet it was particularly bad for Johnson. His ERA rose from 0.79 to 2.92 after his worst outing this season. Nonetheless, Johnson has been a great addition to the Mariners, he has allowed just four runs in twelve innings of work (including Wednesday's appearance) and seems to be a staple in the bullpen.
Johnson had his contract selected by the Mariners on Tuesday. Johnson landed with the Mariners' organization after being released by the Rangers this offseason and has seen strong results with Triple-A Tacoma so far, registering a 2.25 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 16 innings. He is likely to occupy a middle relief role for the Mariners going forward.
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