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Dan Johnson Rumors
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.
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.
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.
Couple more odds and ends this evening…
- Orioles executive VP Mike Flanagan admitted he wouldn’t have signed Miguel Tejada to a six-year deal if he knew the shortstop’s proper age. But he still would’ve signed him (if possible). People are debating whether ESPN ambushed Tejada with his birth certificate…of course they did.
- Ken Rosenthal believes the optimal course of action for the Phillies is to just let Ryan Howard play out the string and then let him walk as a free agent after the 2011 season.
- Rays Index says the Dan Johnson acquisition signals a "win-now" attitude for the Rays.
According to Susan Slusser, the Rays have claimed first baseman Dan Johnson off waivers. She expects him to put in time at DH while Cliff Floyd is out for the next month or so. Johnson moves from McAfee Coliseum (deflates LH HRs by 10%) to Tropicana Field (inflates LH HR by 4%).
You can read Johnson’s story here. He should be a decent stopgap for Tampa Bay.
THURSDAY, 10:00am: The Giants have no interest in Johnson, according to Henry Schulman.
WEDNEDAY, 3:11pm: As expected, Johnson was designated for assignment today.
11:14am: Susan Slusser believes first baseman Dan Johnson‘s Oakland career might be over, as the A’s need a roster spot for rookie starter Greg Smith. Speculation is that Billy Beane could try to trade him to the Giants, where he’d be free to play regularly and bat in the middle of the order.
Johnson, 28, has a .249/.344/.419 career line in 318 games. He was a late bloomer, earning a September call-up in ’04 as a 25 year-old. He didn’t appear in any big league games because of vertigo, though. Yes, vertigo. Baseball America’s 2005 handbook had Johnson sixth among A’s prospects, between Joe Blanton and Huston Street.
Johnson got the call in May of ’05 when DH Erubiel Durazo hit the DL. His rookie season resulted in a solid .806 OPS. He didn’t snag any ROY votes, but Street won it while Nick Swisher and Blanton received votes. It was downhill from there for Johnson.
When the A’s signed Frank Thomas in the offseason, Johnson became the everyday first baseman. He was lousy in every month aside from June, and even started the season 0 for 27. He was demoted to Triple A in July and came back in September. Double vision was later cited as a factor in the poor season.
The Shannon Stewart acquisition before the ’07 season pushed Johnson into a bench role. He then tore hip cartilage in March, missing most of April. He had a very strong May but was otherwise unimpressive.
Johnson lost 15 pounds this past offseason due to an illness, and then the Mike Sweeney acquisition pretty much ended his time in Oakland. A trade to San Francisco might represent his last shot at lasting as a big league regular.
Henry Schulman at The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Giants GM Brian Sabean is seeking a left-handed hitting 1B to complement the aging Rich Aurilia, and lists Nick Johnson and the Braves’ Scott Thorman as points of interest.
Nick Johnson is off to a hot start hitting .368/.455/.688 in 19 ABs, and for this reason Schulman suggests he could be off the market; however, contrary to that rationale, the Nationals might want to take advantage of Johnson’s sudden upswing in value. They do have Dmitri Young sitting idly by. If the Giants want to spend $11MM over the next 2 years on Johnson, he would be a solid addition to a lackluster offense. Johnson would almost certainly make a bench player of Aurilia.
Scott Thorman, who the Braves have been shopping for over a month, is 26, and hit 11 homeruns in 268 ABs last season. With Mark Teixeira locked in at 1B this season, and plenty of guys who can be moved to 1B next year (Matt Diaz, Mark Kotsay, et al), Thorman no longer seems to be the heir apparent should Teixeira not re-sign.
While I’m always hesitant to suggest a team should deal with Billy Beane, Dan Johnson needs a new home. Sure his value has collapsed over the past couple seasons, but he hits lefty, could provide power, and is only 28. He’s on a one year contract for $410,000, so there’s not much risk, and Beane’s asking price can’t be high. If the Giants don’t want to commit $11MM to a player as they try to rebuild, DJ could be a good alternative.
Any other 1B options you think would be a good fit?
By Nat Boyle
There just doesn’t seem to be a spot in Oakland for Dan Johnson. Once seen as a solution at first base, ineffectiveness and injuries have slowed him down a bit. While the 28-year-old still has some promise, he’s blocked in Oakland at first base by Daric Barton and Mike Sweeney, and at DH by Sweeney and Jack Cust.
There’s been some speculation of a Johnson trade, and that might be coming soon. Chad Gaudin can come off the DL on April 12, and Johnson could be the casualty. It depends, really, on whether Billy Beane and Bob Geren want to continue carrying 11 pitchers, or they want to up it to 12.
Apparently, Giants GM Brian Sabean told a sports radio program that he’s looking for a left-hand-hitting first baseman. They seem like a good fit from one end, but do the Giants have the chips the A’s are looking for? Other than that, I can’t see too many other teams that would be interested in him as a starter. Maybe as a backup, but then I suppose most teams wouldn’t be willing to part with much value for a backup first baseman.
I’m thinking that the A’s stick with 11 pitchers for the foreseeable future, and wait for a better opportunity to trade Johnson — probably an injury.