Elliot Johnson Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Royals announced that they acquired utility player Elliot Johnson from the Rays as the player to be named later in the December trade involving James Shields and Wil Myers. The Rays had designated Johnson for assignment last week.
Johnson, 28, appeared in 123 games for the Rays in 2012. He posted a .242/.304/.350 batting line with six home runs in 331 plate appearances. The Royals placed Johnson on their 40-man roster, moving Felipe Paulino to the 60-day disabled list in a corresponding move.
4:31pm: The Rays also designated Elliot Johnson for assignment, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter links). Johnson, 28, appeared in 123 games for the Rays in 2012. He posted a .242/.304/.350 batting line with six home runs in 331 plate appearances. The moves create roster space for Kyle Farnsworth and Kelly Johnson, whose deals are now official.
4:05pm: The Rays will designate Reid Brignac for assignment, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Rays are in need of 40-man roster space, presumably to make official the signings of Luke Scott, Kelly Johnson and Kyle Farnsworth.
Brignac appeared in 16 games for the Rays last year, playing second base, third base, shortstop and left field. The 27-year-old spent most of the season at Triple-A, where he posted a .231/.323/.353 batting line in 400 plate appearances as a middle infielder. Brignac, who is not yet arbitration eligible, has a .227/.268/.317 batting line in parts of five MLB seasons.
The Phillies have “tapped out” their payroll and have “nothing brewing” on the Michael Young front, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Here’s the latest from Heyman as the Phils contemplate whether or not to pursue new free agent Luis Castillo...
- The expectation is that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, whose contract expires after the season, will be back. Dombrowski declined to comment on the matter.
- Manny Ramirez wanted to play for the Rays or the Blue Jays this year, according to Heyman. Rumors linked Ramirez to Toronto early in the offseason, partly because of the slugger’s affinity for incoming manager John Farrell and partly because he rooted for the great Dominican Blue Jays of the 1980s.
- Team officials say Rays infielder Elliot Johnson has been very impressive this spring.