Elliot Johnson Rumors

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.


Royals Acquire Elliot Johnson

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.

The Royals acquired Shields, Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash from Tampa Bay for Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard in December.


Rays Designate Brignac, Johnson For Assignment

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.


Heyman On Phillies, Tigers, Manny, Rays

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.

Odds & Ends: Indians, Jeter, Ellis, Giants, Chen

Happy 92nd birthday to one of baseball's all-time great pitchers, Bob Feller.  "Rapid Robert" piled up 266 wins and 2581 strikeouts in his Hall of Fame career.  In tribute to Feller, it's only appropriate that we start this batch of news items with something from Cleveland…

  • Infielder Drew Sutton is eligible for free agency after being outrighted to Triple-A by the Indians, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  The article notes that Andy Marte is expected to be removed from the Cleveland roster before the Rule 5 draft deadline.  Also from Hoynes (via Twitter), the Phillies claimed shortstop Carlos Rivero on waivers from the Tribe.  Rivero has a .676 OPS in 2156 minor league plate appearances, none above the Double-A level.
  • Hal Steinbrenner's recent comments about the Derek Jeter talks strike ESPN's Buster Olney "as if he's preparing the NYY fans for an ugly Jeter negotiation" (Twitter link).
  • Now that the A's have exercised Mark Ellis' option for 2011, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that the team will look into an extension for the veteran second baseman.
  • Buster Posey and Brian Wilson are the key reasons why the Giants have a chance to win another World Series, says Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com.  "How many teams can say, right now, they have zero interest in upgrading at the need-to-have positions of catcher or closer?", Morosi asks.  He cites just the Phillies and Twins, and even those two clubs come with question marks.
  • Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com thinks the Giants should sign Eric Chavez to a minor-league contract.  (Twitter link)
  • Bruce Chen wants a multiyear deal but the Royals are "unlikely" to make the left-hander such an offer, tweets The Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton.
  • It could be a bad omen for David Ortiz's $12.5MM option that another slugging DH (Vladimir Guerrero) had his $9MM option for 2011 declined by Texas earlier today, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
  • Tampa Bay added Elliot Johnson to its 40-man roster, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.  Without the move, Johnson would've become a free agent.  Johnson had a breakout minor league campaign in Triple-A last season, posting a .319/.375/.475 line and winning the International League MVP award.
  • In response to a fan mailbag question about Adam Dunn, MLB.com's Bill Ladson warns about the dangers of the Nationals offering a long-term deal to a defensively-challenged slugger.  He points out how fans were also wishing the Nats signed Alfonso Soriano to an extension, but in hindsight Washington made the right move.
  • Nationals right-hander Collin Balester is looking for members to join his 'Movember' team.  Click here to sign up and join Balester in raising money and awareness in the fight against prostate cancer.

Blalock To Accept Minor League Assignment

Hank Blalock will report to the Rays' Triple-A affiliate in Durham, according to the Tampa Bay Tribune (via Twitter).  Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times tweets that this means the 29-year-old was unable to find a major league job elsewhere.

Late last week, Reid Brignac made Tampa Bay's Opening Day roster, leaving Blalock as the odd man out.  Despite his assertion that he does not want to play minor league ball, he told Topkin that he would remain in Durham for the "foreseeable future" if he could not land a gig in the big show (link goes to Twitter).

Blalock is not today's only notable addition to Triple-A Durham, as Elliot Johnson was also placed on the squad after clearing waivers.


Odds & Ends: Rule 5, Jones, Hechevarria, Brewers

Links for Easter Sunday…


Odds & Ends: Dodgers, Figueroa, Rays, Martinez

Links for Saturday…