The Braves dumped a burdensome contract Thursday by trading veteran right-handed reliever Jim Johnson to the Angels on Thursday in exchange for minor-league left-hander Justin Kelly.
Johnson, 34, lost the closer job last summer and was owed $5 million in 2018 in the second year of a two-year, $10 million contract, including a $4.5 million salary and prorated portion of a $1 million signing bonus.
He blew nine of 31 save opportunities and had a 5.56 ERA in 61 appearances, including a 9.00 ERA and .993 opponents’ OPS in 26 games after July 1.
The Braves also sent the Angels the remaining $1.21 million of their international pool space, a commodity that was no longer of much importance to the Braves because of severe restrictions they faced -- $300,000 maximum bonus per player -- in signing international free agents due to Major League Baseball sanctions, plus the lateness in the signing period that left only limited unsigned players to pursue.
Kelly, 24, was 6-4 with a 3.543 ERA in 25 games (six starts) at five levels for the Angels last season, with 57 strikeouts and 29 walks in 63-2/3 innings.
In his only appearances above Single-A, Kelly posted a 7.50 ERA in two games (one start) for Double-A Mobile and had an 11.25 ERA in two relief appearances at Triple-A Salt Lake, where he gave up seven hits and five runs in four innings.
The lefty was a 33rd-round draft pick out of the University of California-Santa Barbara in 2016.
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