ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves re-signed reliever Pierce Johnson to a $14.25 million, two-year contract Wednesday in the first offseason move for the team that posted baseball's best record this season.
Johnson, who provided the Braves with a hard-throwing option out of the bullpen after being acquired from Colorado, will make $7 million each of the next two seasons. The deal also includes a $7 million club option for 2026 with a $250,000 buyout.
The 32-year-old right-hander lost the closer's job with the Rockies, but he turned his season around after he was acquired by Atlanta for two minor leaguers on July 24.
Johnson allowed two earned runs in 23 2/3 innings for a 0.76 ERA in 24 appearances for the Braves, with 32 strikeouts and just five walks. He assumed a key setup role along with A.J. Minter for closer Raisel Iglesias.
During the NL Division Series, Johnson added three scoreless appearances, but the 104-win Braves were upset by the Philadelphia Phillies in four games for the second year in a row.
Iglesias, who had 33 saves with a 2.75 ERA, is under contract for two more seasons, while Minter (3-6, 10 saves, 3.76 ERA) is heading into his final season of arbitration. The Braves also are hoping for the return of lefty Tyler Matzek, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The rest of the bullpen is in a state of flux.
The Braves have until five days after the World Series to decide on club options for right-handers Kirby Yates ($5.75 million with a $1.25 million buyout), Collin McHugh ($6 million with a $1 million buyout) and Brad Hand ($7 million with a $500,000 buyout).
Joe Jimenez is headed for free agency unless he can agree on a new deal with the Braves, while Dylan Lee, Nick Anderson and Michael Tonkin remain under team control for now.
There's also 40-year-old Jesse Chavez, who has been highly effective during several stints with the Braves. He might be dropped from the 40-man roster, but Atlanta could try again to bring him back under a minor league deal.
Johnson, who agreed to donate 1% of his salary to the Atlanta Braves Foundation, also has pitched for San Francisco, San Diego and the Chicago Cubs during his six seasons in the big leagues. His career record is 12-15 with a 4.04 ERA and 13 saves.
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