Chris Johnson Rumors

Braves Acquire Justin Upton

After years of trade talk, the Justin Upton rumors finally amounted to a deal. The Braves and Diamondbacks have officially agreed to a seven-player trade that will send Upton to Atlanta. The Braves obtain Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson for third baseman Martin Prado, right-hander Randall Delgado, shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, right-handed pitching prospect Zeke Spruill and minor league first baseman Brandon Drury.

Justin Upton - Diamondbacks (PW)

The Braves now have a new-look outfield that will also feature B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward. Justin's older brother signed with Atlanta as a free agent earlier in the offseason, agreeing to a five-year, $75.2MM contract. GM Frank Wren added balance to what had previously been a lefty-heavy lineup by acquiring the right-handed hitting Upton brothers.

Upton, the first overall selection of the 2005 draft, followed up a breakout 2011 season with a solid but unspectacular 2012 campaign. The 25-year-old hit 17 home runs and posted a .280/.355/.430 batting line in 628 plate appearances last year, his sixth season at the MLB level.

There are now three years and $38.5MM remaining on Upton's contract, including a $9.75MM salary in 2013. The contract includes a no-trade list which allows him to block trades to the Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays and Mariners. He exercised his no-trade rights earlier in the winter, blocking a proposed trade that would have sent him to Seattle.

Prado has provided the Braves with versatility on defense and steady offensive production in recent years. He posted a .301/.359/.438 batting line in 690 plate appearances in 2012 while playing five positions. Though Prado was Atlanta's primary left fielder, he played at least ten games at second base, shortstop and third base.

The 29-year-old is arbitration eligible for the third time this winter. He asked for $7.05MM with the Braves, a file and trial team, offering $6.65MM, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. The Braves were willing to trade Prado once they learned that his asking price on a multiyear deal was $11-12MM, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). Prado, a client of The Legacy Agency, remains on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season.

Johnson hit a career-best 15 home runs last year while playing for the Astros and Diamondbacks. The 28-year-old posted a .281/.326/.451 batting line in 528 plate appearances in 2012. He'll earn $2.875MM in 2013 and will remain under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2016.

As a consequence of the trade, Johnson and Juan Francisco project as Atlanta's primary third basemen. The Braves plan to use the pair in a platoon at third, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). The trade will also take Atlanta out of the running for center fielder Michael Bourn and other free agent outfielders.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks still have considerable outfield depth. Cody Ross, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton provide Arizona manager Kirk Gibson with various options, even without Upton, who had been the team's primary right fielder since 2008. Prado figures to play at third base in Arizona given the team's crowded outfield and the departure of Johnson.

Teams such as the Orioles that had interest in trading for Kubel will now have to look elsewhere for offense. Though Arizona GM Kevin Towers was willing to listen to offers on Upton and Kubel, there's no indication he'd actually trade both players.

Upton drew interest from multiple MLB teams this offseason, as the Diamondbacks were evidently listening to trade offers. The Rangers, one of Upton's many suitors, offered Mike Olt in a trade, but did not include right-hander Cody Buckel in their proposal, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports (on Twitter).

Delgado started 17 games for the Braves in 2012 after entering the season as the 46th ranked prospect in MLB, according to Baseball America. The 22-year-old posted a 4.37 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 92 2/3 innings.

Ahmed, 22, played at Class A this past season in his second year as a professional. The 2011 second rounder posted a .269/.337/.391 batting line in 571 plate appearances. Baseball America named him the best defensive infielder in Atlanta's minor league system.

Spruill ranked ninth on BA's list of top Braves prospects this winter. The 23-year-old spent the 2012 season at Double-A Mississippi, posting a 3.67 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 161 2/3 innings.

Drury played at Class A in 2012. The 20-year-old posted a .229/.270/.333 batting line in 480 plate appearances in his third professional season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the teams were nearing an agreement, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the teams had agreed to a trade (on Twitter) and Mark Bowman of MLB.com first reported the specifics of the deal.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

Dozens of players will agree to terms with their respective teams today and avoid arbitration. We'll have detailed posts on the top earners around MLB, and we'll track more modest agreements — those worth less than $4MM — right here. MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will have all of the details.

Teams had until 12pm CDT today to exchange filing numbers with their arbitration eligible players. Generally speaking the deadline creates lots of discussion and leads to early deals. Plus, for ‘file and trial’ teams this marks the final chance for negotiations in advance of a hearing. Here are the latest agreements from around MLB…

  • The Padres announced that they have avoided arbitration with Edinson Volquez.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • The Red Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Andrew Bailey ($4.1MM), Daniel Bard ($1.8625MM), Andrew Miller ($1.475MM), and Franklin Morales ($1.4875MM).  Terms courtesy of WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
  • The Mets and Bobby Parnell avoided arb with a $1.7MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Alfredo Aceves, agreeing to a deal worth $2.65MM plus incentives, according to O'Connell Sports Management, Aceves' agency (on Twitter via Jon Heyman).
  • The Cubs avoided arbitration with James Russell and Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Samardzija obtains $2.64MM while Russell gets $1.075MM, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Diamondbacks announced that they avoided arbitration with Chris Johnson ($2.2875MM). The team also avoided arbitration with Brad Ziegler ($3.15MM), agreeing to a one-year deal, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports (on Twitter).  Terms courtesy of Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
  • The Nationals announced that they agreed to terms with Tyler Clippard, avoiding arbitration (via Amanda Comak on Twitter). The Nationals avoided arbitration with Ian Desmond, agreeing to a one-year, $3.8MM deal, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports (on Twitter). The Nationals also avoided arb with Roger Bernadina according to the outfielder's agent, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). The Nationals and Ross Detwiler agreed to a one-year, $2.3375MM contract, according to CAA (via Twitter).
  • Brennan Boesch and Phil Coke avoided arbitration, agreeing to one-year deals with the Tigers, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Boesch will earn $2.3MM while Coke will earn $1.85MM. The Tigers also avoided arbitration with Alex Avila, agreeing to a one-year, $2.95MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). Austin Jackson agreed to a deal worth $3.5MM for 2013, Heyman reports. Doug Fister obtained a one-year, $4MM deal from Detroit, Heyman reports.
  • The Dodgers and A.J. Ellis avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $2MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ronald Belisario agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports (on Twitter).
  • The Mariners announced that they avoided arbitration with Kendrys Morales and Brendan Ryan on one-year agreements for 2013. Morales will obtain $5.25MM plus performance bonuses, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan obtained $3.25MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
  • The Rockies avoided arb with Tyler Colvin, agreeing to a one-year deal, the team announced (on Twitter). Colvin will earn $2.275MM, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes (on Twitter).
  • The Braves avoided arbitration with Cristhian Martinez, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports (on Twitter). The Braves avoided arb with Kris Medlen, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (on Twitter). Medlen will earn $2.6MM in 2013. They also avoided arb with Jason Heyward, agreeing to a one-year, $3.65MM deal, Bowman reports (onTwitter). The Braves agreed with another young player, avoiding arb with Jonny Venters, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). It's a $1.625MM deal. Earlier today the Braves agreed to a one-year deal with Eric O'Flaherty, avoiding arbitration, Bowman reported (on Twitter). He'll earn $4.32MM plus awards bonuses, Bowman adds.
  • The Athletics announced they avoided arb with Jerry Blevins and Brandon Moss, agreeing to one-year deals for 2013.
  • The Cardinals avoided arb with Mitchell Boggs and Edward Mujica, B.J. Rains of FOX Sports MidWest reports (on Twitter).
  • The Indians announced that they avoided arb with Matt Albers and Justin Masterson. Albers will earn $1.75MM in 2013, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter). Masterson will earn $5.6875MM according to Bastian (on Twitter). The Indians and Joe Smith avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.15MM deal, Bastian reported earlier today (on Twitter). The Indians also avoided arbitration with Lou Marson, Bastian reports (Twitter links). The catcher will earn $1MM on a one-year deal in 2013.
  • The Astros avoided arb with Wesley Wright, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (on Twitter).  Wright will earn $1.025MM, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Earlier today the Astros and Bud Norris avoided arb with a one-year, $3MM deal, McTaggart reports (on Twitter). The Astros and Jed Lowrie avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.4MM deal with awards bonuses, according to his representatives at CAA Baseball (on Twitter).
  • The White Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Alejandro De Aza, agreeing to a $2.075MM deal for 2013. The White Sox also avoided arb with Gordon Beckham, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.925MM for 2013, MLBTR has learned.
  • The Orioles announced that they avoided arb with Chris Davis and Brian Matusz (Twitter link). Matusz gets a base salary of $1.6MM while Davis gets $3.3MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter links). The Orioles also avoided arbitration with Troy Patton. The sides agreed to a one-year, $815K deal, his agency, CAA Sports, announced on Twitter
  • The Brewers avoided arb with right-hander Marco Estrada and reliever Burke Badenhop, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Estrada will earn $1.955MM while Badenhop will earn $1.55MM, Haudricourt reports.
  • The Rays avoided arbitration with Matthew Joyce and Ryan Roberts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). Joyce will earn $2.45MM and Roberts will earn $2.95MM plus incentives, the Rays announced. The Rays also avoided arbitration with Sam Fuld, agreeing to a one-year, $725K deal, Topkin reported (on Twitter). Earlier today the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeff Niemann. The sides agreed to a one-year, $3MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Royals announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Hochevar, agreeing to a one-year deal for 2013. Hochevar will earn $4.56MM plus performance bonuses, Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter).
  • The Yankees avoided arb with Boone Logan, agreeing to a one-year, $3.15MM deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
  • The Padres avoided arb with John Baker, agreeing to a $930K deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
  • The Twins and Brian Duensing avoided arb with a $1.3MM deal for 2013 (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
  • The Marlins avoided arbitration with Ryan Webb, agreeing to a $975K deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (on Twitter).
  • The Blue Jays announced that they avoided arbitration with Emilio Bonifacio by agreeing to a one-year, $2.6MM deal. The Blue Jays also announced that they avoided arbitration with J.A. Happ, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7MM deal for 2013.
  • The Angels and Tommy Hanson avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.725MM deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. 
  • The Giants avoided arb with Gregor Blanco, agreeing to a one-year, $1.35MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Phillies announced that they avoided arbitration with Antonio Bastardo with a $1.4MM contract for 2013.
  • Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have reached agreement on a one-year, $1.75MM deal plus bonuses to avoid arbitration, according to the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter).

Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Ellis | Alejandro De Aza | Alex Avila | Alfredo Aceves | Andrew Bailey | Andrew Miller | Antonio Bastardo | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Austin Jackson | Baltimore Orioles | Bobby Parnell | Boone Logan | Boston Red Sox | Brad Ziegler | Brandon Moss | Brennan Boesch | Brian Duensing | Brian Matusz | Bud Norris | Burke Badenhop | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Davis | Chris Johnson | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Cristhian Martinez | Daniel Bard | Detroit Tigers | Doug Fister | Edinson Volquez | Edward Mujica | Emilio Bonifacio | Eric O'Flaherty | Franklin Morales | Gaby Sanchez | Gordon Beckham | Gregor Blanco | Houston Astros | Ian Desmond | J.A. Happ | Jason Heyward | Jed Lowrie | Jeff Niemann | Jeff Samardzija | Jerry Blevins | Joe Smith | Josh Thole | Justin Masterson | Kansas City Royals | Kendrys Morales | Kris Medlen | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Lou Marson | Luke Hochevar | Matt Albers | Matt Joyce | Miami Marlins | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Mitchell Boggs | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Phil Coke | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Roger Bernadina | Ronald Belisario | Ross Detwiler | Ryan Roberts | Sam Fuld | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Tommy Hanson | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Troy Patton | Tyler Clippard | Tyler Colvin | Washington Nationals

Super Two Cutoff To Be 2.139

Players with at least two years and 139 days of service time will be eligible for the potentially lucrative arbitration process this offseason, according to the Associated Press (via FOXNews.com). The top 22% of players with between two and three years of MLB service qualify for arbitration under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.

Nationals reliever Drew Storen, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Mets catcher Josh Thole, Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin and Diamondbacks third baseman Chris Johnson are all eligible. 

Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders missed the cutoff by one day. Others, including Justin Smoak, Danny Valencia, Michael Brantley, Jordan Schafer, Giancarlo Stanton, Stephen Strasburg, Daniel HudsonDan RunzlerAndrew Cashner, Alex Burnett, Esmil Rogers and Alexi Ogando, came close to super two status without reaching the threshold.

Jonathan Lucroy, whose contract includes escalators related to super two status, will fall three days short of arbitration eligibility. The difference will cost him $2MM, as I explained last month.

Super two status entitles certain players to four years of arbitration eligibility, rather than the usual three. As a result, players who earn the super two designation generally earn more than their peers. The cutoff would have been two years and 144 days under baseball’s previous collective bargaining agreement, according to the AP. In previous years the top 17% of players with between two and three years of MLB service qualified. The players and owners agreed to a new system last fall.



Diamondbacks Notes: Johnson, Wheeler, Davidson

Aaron Hill ranks fourth in the National League with 70 extra base hits this year. He's under contract for 2013, but there's uncertainty on the left side of Arizona's infield heading toward the offseason. Here's the latest…

  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said he is pleased with what Chris Johnson has done since being acquired from Houston, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. "He's hit for power,” Towers said. “He's got a nice arm over there and he's made most of the defensive plays.” Towers indicated that the Diamondbacks expect to tender Johnson a contract this offseason when the third baseman will be arbitration eligible.
  • The Diamondbacks will likely rely on internal options at third base in 2013. Ryan Wheeler and Matt Davidson are alternatives at the position, Towers said.
  • Shortstop is “probably more of a concern than third base" Towers said, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The free agent market doesn’t feature many everyday shortstops, so the Diamondbacks could address the position in an offseason trade.

West Notes: D-Backs, Drew, Yunel, Headley

It's been a busy weekend in baseball's Western divisions; the Angels have landed Zack Greinke, the Padres have extended Huston Street, the Giants have landed Marco Scutaro and the Diamondbacks have acquired Chris Johnson. There's still plenty of news and potential action out west, however… here are tonight's links:

  • The Diamondbacks may not be finished dealing yet, writes Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. Arizona GM Kevin Towers told reporters on Sunday that he could pursue additional pitching prior to Tuesday's deadline. Towers also hinted that one of the club's infielders could be on the move: "As it stands now it will be tough to get them all at-bats, but we'll see what happens the next two to three days."
  • There's no guarantee that the Diamondbacks trade Stephen Drew, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The D-backs are currently deciding whether they want to give the bulk of the playing time at shortstop to Drew or Willie Bloomquist.
  • If they go with Bloomquist, the Athletics are not the favorites to land Drew; an unspecified mystery team would be most likely, according to Rosenthal's source.
  • Within the same piece, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics are reluctant to match the Blue Jays' asking price for Yunel Escobar.
  • The Padres are weighing several offers for Chase Headley, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but San Diego isn't sure if they want to move him.
  • Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow felt that the high asking price on Headley had a beneficial effect on the market for Johnson, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).

Diamondbacks Acquire Chris Johnson

The Diamondbacks have acquired third baseman Chris Johnson from the Astros for minor league outfielders Marc Krauss and Bobby Borchering, the teams announced. Borchering, 21, was Arizona's first round pick in the 2009 draft while Krauss, 24, was taken in the second round of the same draft.

Johnson, 27, has a slash line of .279/.329/.428 with eight homers in 368 plate appearances this season. The right-handed hitter, who also played a handful of games at first base for Houston this year, won't be arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season unless he qualifies for super two status this coming offseason.

The Diamondbacks dealt from an area from strength in this trade as they are rather deep in the outfield. While Krauss and Borchering were standouts at the Double-A level, they also have prospects Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock in Triple-A Reno. 

GM Jeff Luhnow continues to sell off Major League pieces as a part of the club's rebuilding effort. In the last ten days, the Astros have traded Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates, Brett Myers to the White Sox, and J.A. Happ to the Blue Jays.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Odds & Ends: Padres, Greene, Dye, Giants

Here are some links to close out the week…


Astros Unlikely To Be Significant Players in Free Agency

Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle writes that the Astros are "unlikely to be significant players in free agency this winter." The team is trying to lower payroll and get younger, something signing free agents generally won't accomplish. Justice does say that the club would like to retain relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde, both of whom will be free agents after this year.

Houston started the season with close to a $103MM payroll according to Cot's, but they could shed $17.75MM by letting Miguel Tejada, Mike Hampton, and Darin Erstad walk as free agents. However, a significant chunk of those savings will probably end up being redistributed to Wandy Rodriguez and Hunter Pence, both of whom should receive big raises in arbitration (Pence will likely qualify as a Super Two).

In their effort to incorporate more youth into their lineup, Justice says we could see third baseman Chris Johnson, shortstop Tommy Manzella, second baseman Edwin Maysonet, and catcher Jason Castro in the Opening Day lineup next year. The team will also probably ask reliever Wesley Wright to come to camp next year prepared to compete for a rotation spot.


Astros Looking To Acquire Third Baseman?

According to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, in the wake of Aaron Boone's announcement this morning that he'll miss the season with a heart condition, Astros GM Ed Wade received a call from a team "informing him they had a third baseman available" for trade.

It sounds like Wade will entertain the possibility of making a deal, but he first wants to see how prospect Chris Johnson and veteran Geoff Blum will respond to increased playing time.  Spring training has been rough on both guys thus far.  Johnson, 24, is hitting just .231 this spring with one dinger and six RBI.  Blum, 35, is batting .158 with no home runs and just three RBI in 32 at-bats.

"If we think there's a need at the end (of camp), there's going to be guys available," Wade said Wednesday. "I got a call today from a club that's got a guy that they want to make available so if we have the need. We know what Blum's capable of doing and we like what CJ's shown so far. We'll let them play and see what happens."