The Angels acquired a veteran reliever on Thursday. More importantly, they also added international signing bonus pool space.
The Angels acquired righthander Jim Johnson and the pool space from the Braves, sending back minor league lefthander Justin Kelly.
The Angels will pay the $5 million owed to Johnson in 2018. The international bonus space they acquired, reportedly $1.21 million, gives them $1.31 million they can use to offer Japanese righthander Shohei Otani or sign players recently made free agents by Major League Baseball as part of the Braves punishment for violating international signing rules.
Justin Kelly, LHP (Triple-A Salt Lake)
The Angels drafted Kelly in the 33rd round out of UC Santa Barbara in 2016 and he pitched at five levels in 2017, including Triple-A. Kelly is an organizational reliever who sits 87-89 mph at his best and drops to 84-86 when he gets stretched past 30 pitches. His slider is his main secondary and draws a few swings and misses but is generally seen as a below-average pitch. His changeup is ineffective and often gets crushed. Kelly got hit progressively harder each level he moved up, and does not project as a big leaguer for evaluators. He will move up and down the Braves system filling organizational holes as needed in 2018.
Jim Johnson, RHP (MLB)
The Braves shave $5 million from their payroll by unloading Johnson. The 12-year veteran was 6-3, 5.56 and averaged four walks per nine innings in 2017. He'll have a chance to win a job in the Angels bullpen, although the main prize for them in the deal is the international bonus space.