The A’s took care of a large chunk of business Thursday afternoon, signing new closer Jim Johnson to a one-year contract and avoiding arbitration.
The New York Post reported Johnson’s salary to be $10 million, which would put him just behind starting pitcher Scott Kazmir and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes as the highest paid Athletics for the 2014 season.
Johnson, 30 -- acquired from Baltimore on Dec. 2 for infielder Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas -- is expected to fill the ninth-inning role vacated by Grant Balfour, who left via free agency this winter. He’s the marquee addition in a bullpen that also added setup man Luke Gregerson and lefty Fernando Abad.
The 6-foot-6 right-hander tied for the major league lead with 50 saves last season, going 3-8 with a 2.94 ERA in a career-high 74 appearances. Johnson also led the majors in blown saves with nine. His 101 saves over the past two seasons leads the big leagues.
Oakland now has five unsigned players eligible for arbitration -- first baseman Brandon Moss, shortstop Jed Lowrie, Gregerson and outfielders Josh Reddick and Craig Gentry.