Elliot Johnson Rumors

Players Who Have Elected Minor League Free Agency

A total of 43 players have elected to become minor league free agents, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy in his latest round-up of minor league transactions.  MLBTR has already reported on some of these moves over the last few days, and here is the rest of the list, with players grouped by their most recent team…

Minor Moves: Tateyama, Phipps, Komatsu, Johnson

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Japanese sidearmer Yoshinori Tateyama has been released by the Yankees, according to the International League transactions page. The 38-year-old, a 12-year Nippon league veteran, came stateside in 2011 with the Rangers. In two seasons, he threw 61 innings of 5.75 ERA ball while striking out 9.0 batters per nine against 2.5 BB/9. Working out of the Yanks’ Triple-A pen this year, Tateyama carried a 6.08 ERA in 13 1/3 innings, though he did have an impressive 11.5 K/9 against just 2.0 BB/9.
  • The White Sox have released 28-year-old outfielder Denis Phipps, according to the International League transactions page. Phipps was struggling at Triple-A for Chicago in 2014 with a .159/.250/.270 line in 72 plate appearances. This year was the first that Phipps spent away from the Reds, with whom he had a cup of coffee in 2012. Of course, if the Dominican never finds his way back to the bigs, he can still talk up his lifetime 1.064 OPS, even if it covers just 11 plate appearances.
  • MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports (via Twitter) that the Nationals have released outfielder Erik Komatsu. The 26-year-old was selected by the Cardinals in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft and then claimed off waivers by the Twins when St. Louis cut him loose. Komatsu made 58 total plate appearances that season, hitting .216/.293/.216 before being returned to the Nats. The former eighth-round pick, who was once traded from Milwaukee to Washington in exchange for Jerry Hairston, batted .188/.365/.271 at Triple-A this season and owns a career .232/.344/.328 batting line at that level.
  • The Indians have outrighted utility man Elliot Johnson to Triple-A Columbus, according to the club’s transactions page. Johnson signed a minor league deal with Cleveland this offseason but collected just two hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in 20 plate appearances in his time with the club before being designated for assignment last week. The 30-year-old Johnson had the option to reject his assignment and pursue free agency, but the team announced that he has accepted and will report to Triple-A Columbus (Twitter link).

Indians Designate Elliot Johnson For Assignment

The Indians have designated infielder Elliot Johnson for assignment, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. The Indians also placed catcher Yan Gomes on the paternity list and promoted catcher George Kottaras and pitcher Nick Hagadone.

Cleveland signed Johnson to a minor-league deal in January after the Braves non-tendered him in December, and he made the Indians out of spring training. Johnson collected just 20 plate appearances with the Indians, hitting .105/.211/.316. In parts of five seasons mostly spent with the Rays, Royals and Braves, Johnson has a .215/.269/.316 line in 826 plate appearances.

Indians Sign Elliot Johnson

The Indians have signed infielder Elliot Johnson to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (Twitter link). Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish first connected the Indians to the ACES client yesterday (also on Twitter).

Johnson, 29, was acquired by the Royals as a player to be named later in the blockbuster James Shields-for-Wil Myers trade last offseason. He batted just .179/.218/.241 in 173 plate appearances with Kansas City before finding himself designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the Braves. Johnson improved at the plate in Atlanta, hitting a more respectable .261/.317/.359 in 102 PAs. He also offers plus speed, as evidenced by his 22 stolen bases in 24 attempts in 2013.

Johnson's best asset is his ability to handle both up-the-middle positions. Ultimate Zone Rating thinks highly of his glove at second base (+7.9 UZR/150), while grading his shortstop defense as passable, though slightly below average (-2.7). Defensive Runs Saved pegs him at +13 in 602 innings at second base and +3 in 1079 innings at short.

While Ryan Raburn is one option to occasionally back up second baseman Jason Kipnis, he saw just 17 innings there last season and is better suited to play right field. Mike Aviles presents another option to back up Kipnis as well as shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but Johnson could fight his way into the mix for a utility spot.

National League Non-Tenders

Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of National League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.

  • The Reds non-tendered outfielders Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson, according to the AP.  Robinson had been designated for assignment last Thursday to open a roster spot for Skip Schumaker.
  • The Rockies have non-tendered reliever Mitchell Boggs, tweets Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
  • The Dodgers have non-tendered Ronald Belisario, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
  • The Marlins have non-tendered outfielder Chris Coghlan and reliever Ryan Webb, the club announced via press release.
  • The Pirates have non-tendered Garrett Jones, Michael McKenry, and Kyle McPherson, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • The Giants have non-tendered Sandy Rosario and Francisco Peguero, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • The Cubs have non-tendered Mat Gamel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The club has also non-tendered Chang-Yong Lim, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. 
  • The Mets officially announced their slate of non-tenders, which includes a few new names in Jeremy Hefner and Justin Turner (via tweet from Andy Martino of the New York Daily News).
  • The Braves announced that they have non-tendered infielders Elliot Johnson and Paul Janish as well as right-hander Cristhian Martinez (Twitter link). Johnson, 29, batted .209/.255/.283 in 275 plate appearances between the Royals and Braves last season. Janish was less productive in 45 PAs, batting .171/.222/.220. Martinez, 31, missed nearly the entire season due to shoulder surgery. However, he posted a 3.63 ERA in 151 1/3 innings for Atlanta from 2011-12, making him a potential buy-low candidate for another club.
  • The Mets have non-tendered Jordany Valdespin, Rubin reports. Valdespin has been a persistent source of drama for the Mets, lashing out at manager Terry Collins after being demoted and also being slapped with a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. The soon-to-be 26-year-old is a career .219/.271/.380 hitter in 350 big league plate appearances. Valdespin's non-tender comes despite him not yet being arbitration eligible, illustrating the Mets' frustration with the second baseman/outfielder.
  • The Cubs will non-tender right-hander Daniel Bard, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Bard was claimed off waivers in September and never threw a pitch for the Cubs organization. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford notes that Bard was pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League but walked nine batters while recording just one out. The Cubs could still agree to a non-roster deal with Bard, he adds. Bard's control has vanished into thin air, as the formerly dominant setup man has also walked 56 batters over his past 47 1/3 minor league frames.
  • The Mets have informed shortstop Omar Quintanilla that he will be non-tendered, Quintanilla told Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. Quintanilla projected to earn $900K this offseason after batting .222/.306/.283 in a career-high 359 plate appearances last season.
  • ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets that the Mets will also non-tender Scott Atchison. The right-hander projected to earn $1.3MM coming off a 4.37 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 45 1/3 innings. Atchison will turn 38 in late March.

NL East Notes: Harvey, Collins, Johnson, Valencia

The plan of action could change later this offseason, but for now, Matt Harvey has decided to try and avoid undergoing Tommy John surgery, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The young Mets ace will try to rehab his right elbow for a month or two and then throw to see if he bounces back well from the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Here's more on the Mets and the rest of the NL East…

  • Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog isn't on board with the Mets bringing Terry Collins back for next season and beyond.  The Mets have stopped short of officially saying that Collins will manage the team in 2014, but all indications are that he will be back in the dugout.
  • Look for Elliot Johnson to be back with the Braves in a super-utility role next season, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com within his latest column.  Atlanta is quite pleased with their August waiver claim on the 29-year-old as he has done a capable job of filling in for second baseman Dan Uggla.
  • More from Rosenthal's piece, as he writes that Danny Valencia’s strong play with the Orioles could make him an appealing option for the Marlins, who will be looking for help at third base this winter.  It doesn't hurt that Valencia has strong ties to the area as he was born in Miami, grew up in nearby Boca Raton, and attended the University of Miami.
  • The Phillies are a prime example of how fortunes can change quickly in the game of baseball, writes MLB.com's Paul Hagen.  The Phillies opted to keep their aging core in tact this season despite being bogged down by injuries.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.

Braves Claim Elliot Johnson

The Braves have claimed infielder Elliot Johnson off release waivers from the Royals, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). The Royals had requested release waivers on Monday after designating Johnson for assignment last week.

Johnson, 29, batted .179/.218/.241 in 173 plate appearances for the Royals this season after coming over as the player to be named later in the James Shields-Wil Myers blockbuster. He's a career .212/.267/.313 hitter in 704 plate appearances who is a defensive standout at second base but below average at shortstop, according to Ultimate Zone Rating. The Braves have been said to be looking for extra offense at second base with Dan Uggla and Tyler Pastornicky on the shelf, but the addition of Johnson suggests they're content to make a significant defensive upgrade for the time being.

Royals Release Elliot Johnson

MONDAY: Johnson has been placed on unconditional release waivers, the Royals announced on Twitter.

THURSDAY: The Royals have created roster space for the recently acquired Emilio Bonifacio by designating infielder Elliot Johnson for assignment, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Johnson came over from the Rays this offseason as part of the James Shields-Wil Myers blockbuster.

The 29-year-old Johnson batted .179/.218/.241 in 173 plate appearances for the Royals this season — a steep decline from last season's .242/.304/.350 in 331 plate appearances. While Johnson offered little with the bat this season, he did provide some value on defense and on the basepaths. Both UZR/150 (+15.9) and The Fielding Bible (nine runs above average) loved his work at second base at second base this season, and he went 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts

Johnson also has experience at shortstop and third base, and he's even appeared briefly in all three outfield spots throughout his career. He's a career .212/.267/.313 in 704 plate appearances — all coming with the Rays and Royals.

Royals Notes: Shields, Davis, Tejada

The Royals are looking for their first .500 finish since 2003, and there's optimism that the team could surprise people following a busy offseason. Here are the latest Royals-related notes…

  • Though the Royals were reluctant to part with Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis, they made the trade. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains, club officials including GM Dayton Moore found it easier to approve the deal once they realized their farm system would still be deep.
  • Moore says he learned from his former boss, longtime Braves executive John Schuerholz, that general managers must be prepared to take risks. “If you focus on what you’re giving up, you’ll never make a deal,” Moore told Rosenthal. “It will paralyze you.”
  • The Royals didn't know it at the time, but the Diamondbacks, Rangers and Rays worked on a three-team trade that would have sent prospects to Tampa Bay, Shields and Davis to Arizona and Justin Upton to Texas. The Rays discussed this trade at the same time as they discussed possible deals with the Royals.
  • Rival executives question Moore's decision to trade Myers, one of the game's top position player prospects, following a 72-win season. Yet as right-hander Jeremy Guthrie notes, “you can only stockpile prospects for so long.”
  • The Royals face questions at second base, in the rotation and on the bench, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports. New additions Miguel Tejada and Elliot Johnson were acquired with the expectation that they'd make the team, though that's not absolute.

Royals Notes: Shields, Johnson, Tejada, Francoeur

The Royals, as chronicled by MLBTR's Transaction Tracker, had a busy winter acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis in a blockbluster seven player trade, re-signing Jeremy Guthrie, and dealing for Ervin Santana and his $13MM salary. The Royals haven't reached the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1985. Could this be the year the post-season drought comes to an end? Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, in a Twitter Q&A exchange, says the list of things that have to go right for that to occur is shorter than in any season for maybe 20 years. Here are the other highlights from Dutton's weekend sessions:

  • Dutton doesn't see the Royals extending Shields during the season and the likelihood of it happening after the season or next year isn't much better. Dutton argues why wouldn't Shields, who the Royals hold a 2014 team option, want to test the free agent market unless overwhelmed with an offer and why would the Royals make an overwhelming offer to a pitcher who will be 33.
  • Elliot Johnson, the player to be named later in the Shields-Davis trade, was discussed as the final piece in the deal almost from the beginning. Johnson's inclusion as the PTBNL was announced one week after the Rays designated him for assignment.
  • Dutton believes there's a good chance Johnson and Miguel Tejada both make the team as utility infielders, but adds neither is a lock.
  • Jeff Francoeur, entering the final year of a two-year, $13.5MM contract extension he signed in August 2011, needs to show increased production to hold his job for the entire season.
  • Dutton sees seven to nine guys making the Royals' 2013 Opening Day roster who weren’t with the team a year earlier.