Dan Johnson Rumors

Rays Notes: Bullpen, First Base, DH

The Rays find themselves in a difficult position as the 2011 season approaches. Forced to cut payroll, they've lost Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, (presumably) Rafael Soriano, and most of their bullpen to free agency, and traded Jason Bartlett as he approaches his final arbitration year.

Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times looks at some of the issues left to be addressed as the Rays begin bargain shopping this offseason:

Rays Rumors: Howell, Johnson, Bartlett

The latest on the Rays, who are looking to re-build their bullpen and acquire a hitter or two:

Blalock To Join Rays Today

2:31pm: Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman confirmed the promotion of Blalock in a blog post by Topkin

Friedman insists that the move has nothing to do with Blalock's contract situation and potential opt-out clause.  The club, he says, talked during Spring Training about re-evaluating things at this point in the season. 

He added that Dan Johnson, currently in Triple-A Durham, was also considered for promotion.  The 30-year-old has been posting even stronger numbers than Blalock, hitting .311/.382/.647 with 11 HRs.

10:52am: The team has yet to confirm the move, but it appears that Hank Blalock will join the Rays for today's game against the Mariners according to Heath Baywood at DRaysBay. Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times backs up the report.

Earlier this week Scott Boras indicated that Blalock would exercise the opt-out clause in his contract if he wasn't called up within a week. The two-time All Star hit .349/.405/.505 with Tampa's Triple-A affiliate, though oddly enough he hit lefties better than righties. That could easily be a function of limited at-bats, however.

Tampa Bay has two open spots on it's 40-man roster, but they will need to clear a 25-man roster spot for Blalock. Topkin says that it remains to be seen if this is the end of the Pat Burrell era, even though he's hitting just .202/.292/.333 this year. Either way, the Rays are the hook for his $9MM salary this season.

Odds & Ends: Padron, Washburn, Moeller, Chapman

Links for Tuesday…

Rays Sign Dan Johnson

The Rays signed first baseman Dan Johnson to a one-year, Major League deal worth $500K, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.  The Rays sold Johnson's rights to the Yokohama BayStars about a year ago, and the 30-year-old hit .215/.330/.462 in 382 plate appearances in Japan in 2009.  He's got a career line of .248/.343/.420.  Most his big league time came with the A's from 2005-07.

Odds And Ends: Johnson, Bloomquist, Smoltz

Links for Saturday:

  • We knew Dan Johnson was heading to Japan, but now it’s official. He’ll play for the Yokohama BayStars and earn $1.5MM in 2009.
  • Rob Neyer writes that the Willie Bloomquist signing caps an offseason that’s cost the Royals a lot and left them with very little top talent.
  • Losing John Smoltz hasn’t been easy for the Braves.
  • MLB.com’s Tom Singer takes a look at some of the remaining free agent pitchers.
  • Buster Olney creates a team of the remaining free agents and it doesn’t look bad. He also has a fun idea for teams who want to sign a Type A free agent without losing their top pick.
  • Jim Johnson seems likely to start the season in the bullpen for Baltimore.
  • Peter Schmuck writes that at a low enough price it would make sense for the O’s to gamble on some pitchers to fill out the rotation.
  • Larry LaRue wonders whether the Mariners will hold onto Jamie Burke; Burke does too.

Odds and Ends: Redding, Turnbow, Looper

Links for Saturday…

  • RotoAuthority looks at projections for Chris Davis.  35 home runs next year?
  • Bill Madden suggests Paul Kinzer screwed up in both the Rafael Furcal and Francisco Rodriguez negotiations.
  • More details on Dan Johnsonthe Rays are selling him to a Japanese team for $100,000-500,000.
  • Tim Redding‘s agent says "the Mets are very much in the mix" for the righty.
  • Juan C. Rodriguez confirms the Marlins’ interest in Derrick Turnbow, but says they aren’t going after Ray King.
  • The Rockies could pursue Braden Looper.
  • The Orioles have expressed interest in Phillies catcher Chris Coste.
  • New National Josh Willingham likes the Marlins’ young talent.
  • New Phillie Raul Ibanez likes the chances that the Mariners will have a better offense in 2009.
  • The AP has details on the perks in the C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett deals.
  • Ken Davidoff looks at the impact Mark Teixeira‘s decision will have on six teams. Amazing how one deal will shape so many teams’ plans.
  • Buster Olney writes that many players are going to make much less than expected in 2009, including Manny Ramirez.  In that same blog post, Olney notes that his colleague Jerry Crasnick says the Angels’ signing of Juan Rivera takes them out of the market for Manny.
  • The D’Backs’ discussions for Tony Clark are progressing.

Odds and Ends: Wilson, Bautista, Hairston

Linkage for Friday…

Dan Johnson Clears Waivers

FRIDAY: No one wanted Johnson; he cleared waivers and will head to Triple A Durham.

WEDNESDAY: That was quick – Dan Johnson‘s time with the Rays is up.  He’s been designated for assignment in the wake of the Gabe Gross acquisition.  Gross does make more sense for the roster spot.

There are only a handful of teams that might be able to accomodate Johnson as a regular.  We’ll have to see which club was second in line for his services (if any).  At the least, he’d be a strong bench player.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Johnson, Bonds, Piazza

So far during the 2008 regular season, 28 players have either been DFA’d or released. At the same point last year, that list only included 14 players. In the past four seasons, only 2006 (22) had more than 14 players DFA’d or released this early in the season.

This will be an interesting trend to watch the rest of this season and into the early portion of 2009. It appears to be an indication that teams are showing less patience to work trades for fringe players or teams may be placing higher premiums on prospects, unwilling to move even mid-level prospects for a guy that might be the 24th or 25th man on a 25-man roster. Either way, it could mean fewer trades in 2008 and beyond.

The list of players DFA’d so far this year includes some that have been productive Major Leaguers at some point in their career and could be again, including Kirk Saarloos, Juan Castro, Dan Johnson and Hideo Nomo. OK, maybe Nomo is a stretch. With players like this being made available it is even more reason for teams to avoid trades and wait. And of course Barry Bonds and Mike Piazza are still sitting out there. Let’s take a look at what is being said about these players in the Blogosphere…

  • Mets Fever wonders if Johnson is worth a flyer from the Mets but wonders who would go to make room.
  • Fanhouse sees Johnson ending up right back where he started (almost), signing with the Giants.
  • Beyond the Boxscore wrote this prior to Frank Thomas signing with the A’s, but the question, "Who Needs a DH?" is still relevant with Piazza, Bonds and Johnson. They take a look at several teams that could be in the market.
  • I am convinced that by the All-Star break, we will have seen 30 different versions of "Why [insert MLB team] should sign Barry Bonds". The latest comes from Jays Nest who argues for the Blue Jays signing the all-time home run king.

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached here.