Reed Johnson. He’s a 30 year-old outfielder who can play all three positions. He posted a .391 OBP as the Jays’ leadoff hitter last year. He doesn’t need to be platooned. He makes $3.075MM this year and has two years of service time left before free agency.
If there’s one team that can afford to compromise a little outfield defense, it’s the Jays. They’ve got two excellent athletes in Vernon Wells and Alex Rios. The DH spot is blocked with Frank Thomas, leaving no spot for young Adam Lind. Lind appears Major League ready – his PECOTA is .289/.349/.493 and he projects to be more valuable than Johnson in 2007. Lind’s defense is lacking, but the Jays can stomach that.
So which teams could use Reed Johnson? The Twins, Braves, Cardinals, and Marlins are possibilities. I think he could be a decent center fielder for the Fish, but they’d hesitate to take on his salary. The Braves seem content with their left field platoon, though I think Johnson would fit. The Cards also have some outfield questions, though Ricciardi hasn’t traded with John Schuerholz or Walt Jocketty before. The Dodgers had interest in Johnson in the past but the Brady Clark acquisition removes their need.
That leaves the Twins as my choice. They’re relying on the health of Rondell White and/or Jason Kubel in left, and they may want to trade Torii Hunter midseason. Alexi Casilla is ready to replace Luis Castillo as well, and Johnson could be used at leadoff while Casilla gets acclimated.
In return, the Twins could send one of their young starters to the Jays. Asking for Glen Perkins or Kevin Slowey seems like too much, but Scott Baker is buried on their starting pitching depth chart. He seems to have fallen out of favor after a half-season of 6.37 ball last year. While his home run tendencies are a poor fit for Rogers Centre, Baker did have a promising 3.9 K/BB last year. He’s 25 years old and seems like an appropriate bounty for Johnson. Thoughts?