For the second day in a row, the Braves signed a cast-off reliever whom they believe can benefit plenty from the tutelage of pitching coach Roger McDowell.
The Braves signed Michael Kohn to a minor league contract Thursday that comes with an invitation to big-league spring training. The hard-throwing former Angels right-hander appears to have a good shot at making the opening-day roster.
Kohn, 28, had a 3.04 ERA in 25 appearances in 2014 for the Angels, with 26 strikeouts and one homer allowed in 23 2/3 innings, all before being optioned to Triple-A June 3. The issue, as throughout his career, was control. He walked 20 batters, which gave him a .327 opponents’ OBP despite his stingy .141 batting average allowed.
Kohn, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was granted free agency and signed a major league contract with Tampa Bay in October. But when the Rays left him off their 40-man roster two weeks ago, the South Carolina native elected to become a free agent rather than being outrighted to the minors.
Major league hitters were 11-for-78 against Kohn in 2014, including 4-for-37 (.108) by lefty batters. In parts of four seasons with the Angels, he was 5-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 126 relief appearances, with 107 strikeouts and 73 walks in 110 1/3 innings. He has allowed a .209 average and .338 OBP in the majors, including .198 by lefties and .221 by righties.
Kohn has a 3.52 ERA in 88 appearances over the past two years after missing the 2012 season recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.
On Wednesday, the Braves signed former Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who led the majors with 101 saves during the 2012-2013 seasons before his ERA soared above 7.00 last year with Oakland and Detroit. Johnson signed a major league contract, taking the last open spot on the Braves’ current 40-man roster.
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