As expected, the Detroit Tigers have purchased the contract of recently signed right-handed reliever Jim Johnson from Triple-A Toledo. To make room on Detroit's 25-man roster, Melvin Mercedes was sent down to Triple-A.
The 23-year-old Mercedes was called up earlier this week, making his MLB debut Friday night. He pitched two hitless innings against the Seattle Mariners, striking out a pair in the Tigers' 7-2 loss.
To make space on the 40-man roster for Johnson, John Wagner of the Toledo Blade is reporting 30-year-old journeyman relief pitcher Kevin Whelan will be designated for assignment. Whelan made one appearance with Detroit, allowing two runs and three hits in 1 1/3 innings during the Tigers' 11-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates August 11.
The 31-year-old Johnson is a former All-Star who recorded an MLB leading 101 saves in 2012-13 with the Baltimore Orioles. But the cracks were showing during his 2013 season and after signing a $10 million, one-year deal with the Oakland A's to be their closer, the wheels came off.
The A's demoted Johnson from the closer's role just two weeks into the 2014 season, ultimately designating the nine-year veteran for assignment on August 1. Johnson was given his walking papers after posting a 7.14 ERA, 2.058 WHIP, 1.22 K/BB ratio and 1.11 HR/9 in 38 appearances covering 40 1/3 innings.
In dire need of bolstering their bullpen, the Tigers took a chance and inked Johnson to a minor league deal August 5. He was sent to Triple-A Toledo in hopes of rediscovering his 2012 form. The results were mixed, at best.
In 4 2/3 innings for the Mud Hens, Johnson posted a 5.79 ERA, allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits, striking out two.
He was on the verge of being called up after tossing two scoreless innings in his third Triple-A outing. But Johnson requested one more appearance with the Mud Hens before getting the call from the big club. That outing did not go nearly as well, Johnson allowing a run on two hits and a wild pitch in his one inning of work.
Regardless of his very recent track record and shaky final inning in Triple-A, Johnson will join the Tigers' bullpen on Sunday.