Possible Destinations: Kelly Johnson

Earlier today, Nick Cafardo speculated that Arizona could have to consider trading someone like Kelly Johnson in order to boost its dreadful bullpen. The D'Backs entered today dead last in baseball with a 7.42 bullpen ERA, and the six earned runs it surrendered aren't helping. 

Johnson was signed to a one-year, $2.35MM deal this offseason after being non-tendered by the Braves. Apparently, the desert air has rejuvenated the once-productive second baseman. If chicks really do dig the long ball, it's safe to say Johnson is Arizona's newest heartthrob. He entered today hitting .279/.361/.628, having already crushed 11 round-trippers on the season. Even more enticing than his affordable salary and big-time production may be that Johnson has one year of arbitration left, meaning any new team could control him for the 2011 campaign as well.

The Diamondbacks entered today 7.5 games out of first, and after Dan Haren's pummeling at the hands of the Braves, they find themselves down 13-1 as I write this post. Simply put, things aren't pretty in Arizona this season. If they do look to move Johnson, let's speculate as to where he could end up:

  • Detroit: The Tigers have the lowest bullpen ERA of any team in baseball, thanks to their signing of Jose Valverde and the resurgence of Joel Zumaya. They also just demoted second base prospect Scott Sizemore back to Triple-A after Sizemore posted a line of .206/.297/.289 through his first 115 plate appearances. An upgrade at second base would be a huge boost to the TIgers, who sit just one game back of the Twins in the AL Central.
  • San Diego: If the two don't mind dealing within their own division, there's a match between the needs. The Padres are in first place in the NL West, but have mustered just a .663 OPS from their second basemen so far this offseason. David Eckstein has seen most of the time there, but could be shifted to shortstop as an upgrade over Everth Cabrera's .211/.273/.282 line this season or simply to a utility role. With just 4.16 runs per game and a mere 27 home runs on the season, an offensive upgrade would help San Diego, who also happens to own a sparkling 2.70 bullpen ERA.
  • St. Louis: The Cardinals can be none too pleased with Skip Schumaker's .589 OPS on the season. His .261 BABIP and increased line drive rate likely point to bad luck as the source more than anything else, but if his numbers can't correct themselves, the Cardinals could consider dipping into a relief corps that's produced a 2.85 ERA to help them keep up with the Reds in the NL Central.

What other destinations would make sense for the Arizona masher, and what's a reasonable price to pay for 1.5 years of the resurgent second-bagger? Should clubs be wary of his new hitting-friendly environment, or is Johnson's warpath so far legitimate? Keep in mind that the Diamondbacks could simply elect to hang onto Johnson, but it's hard to argue that now is a good time to sell high.

37 Responses to Possible Destinations: Kelly Johnson Leave a Reply

  1. Yankees420 5 years ago

    I would think Arizona could get more than one reliever for a starting 2B. Plus with how volatile relievers can be you’d think they’d want more than that for Johnson.

    And who would take over at second for Kelly? I don’t know Arizona’s team that well.

  2. Oakland could sure use some offense and LF might be open once Chavez gets hurt and Cust can DH full time.

  3. comegys 5 years ago

    Good call on Detroit. Their Triple-A closer Jay Sborz has been lights out so far and could be called up if someone is traded or could be someone who goes to Arizona.

    • unbiasedhomer 5 years ago

      Except that Carlos Guillen is going to play second base full-time when he comes back, which is a pretty decent “upgrade”.

  4. Guest 5 years ago

    “David Eckstein has seen most of the time there, but could be shifted to shortstop as an upgrade over Everth Cabrera or simply to a utility role.”Probably the most ridiculous proposal I have ever seen on MLBtradrumors. That is laughable!!!!!Obviously not familiar with The Padres or Cabrera!

    The ONLY scenario would be for Johnson to take over for Eck, Everth is not going anywhere.

    • Steve_Adams 5 years ago

      Merely meant an upgrade over his 2010 stats thus far, not overall as a player in the long-term. But, for what it’s worth, I clarified it in the post.

      • Guest 5 years ago

        David Eckstein is not a SS anymore, his range is even limited at 2nd no less with a VERY weak arm. Its ridiculous. David also signed with the Padres because he WANTED to play 2nd base, his real natural position. There is absolutely no chance he (ECK) plays SS.

        • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

          I agree that Eck isnt a SS anymore and that Cabrera will be better defensively… however, how much longer can you stand your SS hitting 211?

          • Guest 5 years ago

            Cabrera JUST came back off the DL. He has only played in 19 or 20 games now. A player that last year in 103 games hit 255/ 342/ 362 but also jumped from low A ball. Everth has excellent speed and also had 25 stolen bases last year along with 8 triples, 18 doubles in only 377 Ab’s. He is the the SS NOW and of the future unless they decide he is better suited at 2nd. The main point, the guy JUST came off the DL, he will be fine.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

            ok.. my point is if he comes off the DL, plays defensively like he did last year, but still sucks with the bat, how much rope do you give him. I know the fans fell in love with him because he jumped from A to MLB, but the Padres still have a shot right now at competing and you have to wonder when they say, “we need to win now”

            Ill say this, I personally dont think they will stay in competition and that it may be better in the long term to stay with Cabrera. Im just thinking from a FO perspective…

          • Guest 5 years ago

            Well the “experts” give him a lot of credit as well. 2009 STATS:.255-2-31-59-25 in 377 AB2010 PROJECTED STATS:CBS: .255-1-34-78-34 in 513 ABCHONE: .265-4-37-67-37 in 423 ABBILL JAMES: .268-3-44-90-37 in 545 ABBASEBALL HQ: 266-2-36-84-36 in 508 AB2010 PROJECTIONS & OUTLOOK:Many people would say “its early” at this point but the facts is this guy has been on the DL, how can he produce if he is not playing? How long? I don’t even think there is a question about SS. Their outfield “production” is atrocious. If there is a need to improve, it is the outfield. I am not sure I would call what he did last year with the bat sucking, considering all the intangibles. Last year when he came off the DL, he won the starting job over Luis Rod. and I do not believe he missed a game. Most of the year his avg was much higher and many analysts contributed his late year slump to of course him adjusting to MLB pitching but also not getting rest. Hitting .229 in Sep of last year and in 3 games in Oct hitting (in 10 ab’s) .100 really lowered his over all stats/avg. If you look from month to month the guy was very solid!

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

            They expected improvement because it would be another year away from a ball.

            I guess I’m saying the only way they change is in a trade for a 2b where they decide the new 2b’s production will outweigh what they are losing defensively.

            I can’t say how to improve the OF because I don’t know their system. I do think Blanks needs to start hitting and they’ll be ok…

          • Guest 5 years ago

            They expected improvement because of what he PROVED on the MLB level along with his scouting analysis. I could POSSIBLY see an upgrade at 2nd base but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Eck has been very solid. and.. like I pointed out their main trouble is the outfield offense. Point Blank< no pun Cabrera is not going anywhere, they also have Jerry H as the back up SS. If anything, Jerry would be the next SS in like NOT Eck lol that is flat out laughable. Hence the fact when Everth went down he was the starting SS.

            The outfield situation: If they decide to send down Blanks/Venable or release TGJ

            They have Aaron Cunningham, Over two seasons in AAA Cunningham in 103 Gm's and 410 AB had 29 2B's, 3 triples, 16 HR with 62 RBI with 14 steals 41 BB and 90 K to go along with a very impressive .317 BA .389 OBP, 510 SLG, and a .899 OPS; Cunningham had 11 HR and Last year Cunningham was the 55th best over all prospects in all of baseball ranked by the most respected prospect handbook, Baseball America. Cunningham has just not started well this year and is batting a meager 223/ 287/ 339 with 2 HR's.

            Luis Durango is a speedster that has difficulty getting extra base hits and has had trouble with his stolen base percentage however, has hit on every level and has improved. Durango is still on the AAA team batting over 300 with 15 stolen bases but also has been caught 8 times. He only has 1 extra base hit and that is a triple, however, his arm has improved according to the scouting department and he is one of the fastest guys in their system and has "improved his routs to balls in CF". both Durango and Cunningham are probably not ready in AAA to come up and make a run at a division title.

            Chris Denorfia, who COULD be the next stop (.306/.368/.504 with 10 doubles 4 triples and 2 Hr's with 12 RBI but he is not on the 40 man. He could be added if they were to DFA Matt Stairs or put CY on the 60 man DL. A former prospect in the Reds organization that has had Tommy J Surgery had fallen off the map mainly to injuries not production. "The timing for Denorfia certainly couldn't have been worse. In 2006, he was rated as the Reds' fifth-best prospect by Baseball America. He hit .349 with Triple-A Louisville that season and earned a promotion to the Reds, where he hit .283 in 106 at-bats." He is not exactly some slouch just not regarded very highly because of injuries and not having any real exceptional tools, just an all around good ball player that is finding his way back at 29.

            Their outfield consisting of Blanks, Venable and Tony Gwynn Jr is bad. TGJ IMO is not an everyday player. Blanks may need to find his way back in AAA but the young man still has a very bright future.

  5. Civilization 5 years ago

    With Carlos moving to second base for a trial run, I’m not too sure how much Detroit will be interested in picking up Johnson. I wouldn’t be heart broken for Detroit to not make this move anyways. Johnson’s having a good start to the season but Detroit’s been fooled into picking up players who were on hot streaks only for them to flounder in the second half.

  6. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

    Arizona should ask for a starter and a reliever, considering Johnson has a very affordable contract and another year of team control. I wonder if Arizona has noticed how well Hector Ambriz has done in relief in Cleveland? It’s an admittedly small sample size, but even a few good relief innings would have been a huge help to Arizona. Nice Rule 5 pick up for Cleveland-they ain’t giving him back.

  7. Taskmaster75 5 years ago

    Good call on the Cardinals, but there are a few problems with the theory. The FO is going to give Skippy as much as leash as possible mainly because Tony likes the guy, and he seems to be developing into an average if not above average defensive 2b. Plus, Felipe Lopez is coming back. If anything is going to happen, Skippy will lose time to Lopez, and that would solve the crisis, hopefully. The Cardinals also can’t afford to trade any of their bullpen arms, as I don’t believe all their RP options in the farm system (Namely Sanchez and others) are ready yet.

    Well, at least I can say I wanted Kelly Johnson in the offseason. :)

    • CodyG 5 years ago

      Right, skip has been unlucky if you look at his BABIP and Lopez is going to get at bat if he struggles. Personally I don’t see KJ as a fit because of the parks he’s played at so far, 3 of his 4 away HRs are at Hou,Pit, and Co and let’s not forget he plays at Chase which is another hitters’ park. A move to Stl. will likely suppress his numbers more so.

  8. diehardmets 5 years ago

    Mets could be a potential landing spot. Their bullpen has been excellent and Castillo is a black hole at 2B.

  9. jdub220 5 years ago

    How the hell can a bullpen be consistently THIS bad?
    It’s getting to the point where 6-7 run leads are FAR from safe, and that’s not an exaggeration.
    It happens every single night. It doesn’t matter what happens the first 7 or so innings, when the bullpen comes in, the game’s over. Something needs to happen, and fast. It’s starting to remind me of 2004.

  10. orioles 5 years ago

    What about the Orioles? I’ve heard that Roberts could miss the season. I’d rather see Wigginton over at first too.

    • jdub220 5 years ago

      I doubt a noncontending club would want to give up much for him.

      • orioles 5 years ago

        There’s team control next year though. If he can play SS, which I have no clue if he ever has or not, then I’d make the move for him.

        • jdub220 5 years ago

          No way KJ is able to play SS. He can barely play 2B.

          • orioles 5 years ago

            Well then I wouldn’t be upset to see him in LF or at 2B with Roberts traded.

    • jwsox 5 years ago

      wigginton is more than likely going to be moved soon to bring in some farm help…the guy is straight mashing and is expendable

      • orioles 5 years ago

        Even more reason to pick him up. Anybody would be an upgrade over Lugo.

  11. jarrett_Lauderdale 5 years ago

    I know everyone is going to hate this comment but the Astros could sure use him. With Matsui and Keppinger at 2nd we have no real threat at the respective slot in the lineup unless it’s Kepp against lefties. We have a nice bullpen and plenty in AAA that don’t look to do much more than be relief guys as well so we could possibly work something out including some cash to Arizona. Matsui, Wilton Lopez and Casey Daigle to Arizona for Johnson plus a mid-tier starting pitching prospect.

    • thestonecop 5 years ago

      The Astros need to be blown up and trading three nothings like Matsui, Daigle (a former D-Back who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2006), and Wilton Lopez aren’t going to get you a box of balls much less one of the hottest hitters in the league.

  12. counciltucky 5 years ago

    What about picking up Braden Looper?

    • Ian_Smell 5 years ago

      That might be worse than doing nothing, actually.

  13. raymondrobertkoenig 5 years ago

    How about the Cubs. Theriot at 2nd is only temporary. He’ll get traded.

  14. Bravoboy10 5 years ago

    Kelly Johnson for Matt Capps straigh up.

  15. jwsox 5 years ago

    kelly johnson for bobby jenks and carlos torres plus eating all of bobby jenk’s contract….it gives them a top pitching prospect in the sox farm and it gives them a pretty good closer who has only blown one save and might benefit from a switch to the NL…throw in scott linebrink(who actually is pretty good so far along with eating his entire contract by the chisox..)linebrink was very good in the NL before the AL move….slot johnson at 2nd for the sox move gordon beckham back to 3rd or ever to AAA for a bit bench teahan as a super sub…cut omar visquel have a bench of teahan and nix….could work for both teams..

  16. Tigers could move Johnson over to 3B and still have Guillen at 2B.

  17. Mario Saavedra 5 years ago

    Kelly Johnson for Edward Mujica. As a Padre I’d do that :3. In all seriousness, maybe for Mujica and Luke Gregerson/Aaron Poreda.

    • Guest 5 years ago

      Why one of the most valuable pitchers the Padres have in Gregerson? NO WAY! Mujica, sure but I don’t think that would be enough.

      • Mario Saavedra 5 years ago

        yo gotta give in order to get… but yes, it might be too much for a player that was just non-tendered.

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