Former Orioles closer Jim Johnson cleared release waivers Sunday afternoon, so he now is eligible to sign with any major league organization.
The Orioles have had trouble this week hiding their desire to bring Johnson back, but they needed to wait until he was free of any contractual obligations with the Oakland Athletics.
Manager Buck Showalter confirmed Sunday that Orioles minor league pitching rehab coordinator Scott McGregor traveled back to Sarasota, Fla., on Sunday, and will watch Johnson throw a side session Monday at the club’s spring training complex.
The sense is the Orioles will sign Johnson to a minor league deal soon, but they are not taking it for granted. Other teams have reportedly showed some interest, and it's possible one could offer him a major league deal since he would only cost the prorated league minimum.
But Johnson, who saved 101 total games for the Orioles between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, spent his entire career with the organization before his trade to Oakland in December. And he lives in Sarasota in the offseason.
The Orioles don’t have a place for him in the major leagues at the moment and would like to start him out in the minor leagues so he can work through whatever mechanical issues led to his command issues with the Athletics this season.
The Orioles' hope is that he could help the team by September. He had a 7.14 ERA in 38 games with the Athletics before his release.