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Dan Johnson Rumors
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:
- The Rays have added some bullpen pieces in Joel Peralta, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, J.P. Howell, and Rule 5 pick Cesar Cabrel, but they'll still need someone to pitch the ninth and probably the eighth, Topkin opines. He lists some potential candidates as Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, Kevin Gregg, Trevor Hoffman, Grant Balfour, and Chad Qualls as options. Remember, the Rays also have Jake McGee.
- There's not much in terms of affordable names for the Rays on the market. Some clarity will be brought to the issue once Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee sign. Topkin mentions Casey Kotchman as a speculative option. Dan Johnson is a fallback if the team can't find an upgrade.
- Johnson is also a backup plan at designated hitter, but the Rays have options at designated hitter, with Johnny Damon, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Jason Giambi on the market.
The latest on the Rays, who are looking to re-build their bullpen and acquire a hitter or two:
- The Rays have progressed toward a deal with J.P. Howell, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter). The team non-tendered the lefty last week.
- The Rays avoided arbitration with Dan Johnson and agreed on a 2011 salary of about $1MM, according to Topkin (Twitter links).
- The Rays and O's were discussing a trade that would have sent Jason Bartlett to Baltimore for a package similar to the one the Orioles sent to Arizona for Mark Reynolds, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (Twitter link).
- Cardinals GM Joh Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he's not looking to acquire middle infielders, so a Barlett trade seems highly unlikely.
- Rays President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Topkin that he wouldn't be surprised if he ends up making a trade or two this week (Twitter link).
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.
Links for Tuesday…
- I joined Jeff & Jeff on KNFS 590 St. Louis today; click here to listen to audio.
- Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald tweets that the Red Sox signed 22-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Padron to a minor league deal with a $350K bonus. Cuban Ball Players has a bit on Padron here.
- SI's Jon Heyman tweets that the Royals will join the Mariners in the Jarrod Washburn bidding. Heyman first made the Royals-Washburn connection on January 11th, but nothing much came of it.
- Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times spoke to Orlando Cabrera, Tony Reagins, and Walt Jocketty about the decline in multiyear free agent contracts.
- Rays first baseman Dan Johnson cleared waivers and accepted a Triple A assignment, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun feels that Orioles catcher Chad Moeller is unlikely to accept a minor league assignment now that the team has chosen Craig Tatum to back up Matt Wieters.
- Aroldis Chapman is expected to begin the season in the minors, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs praises the Rockies for their player development, but questions their offseason tweaking. For more on that topic, check out our Rockies offseason in review.
- Rich Hill, recently reassigned to Triple A, can elect free agency around June if he's not in the Majors according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
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.
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.