Kelly Johnson Rumors

Added To The 40-Man Roster: Sunday

The rosters for Opening Day have been officially submitted this afternoon. Several minor league signees have won jobs with their clubs and earned 40-man roster spots. Here are today’s additions:

  • The Orioles will purchase catcher Ryan Lavarnway‘s contract on Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. The 25-man roster that the Orioles announced today included Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger at catcher, but not Lavarnway, who they had reassigned to the minors.
  • The Padres have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of catcher Wil Nieves. With Tim Federowicz out with a knee injury, Nieves will back up Derek Norris. As we noted when Nieves signed, his big-league salary will be $850K.
  • Ryan Madson has made the Royals‘ Opening Day roster, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Madson caps his comeback from multiple elbow injuries and his first appearance for Kansas City will be his first in the Majors since 2011.
  • The Nationals have announced on Twitter that second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Reed Johnson have made their Opening Day roster.
  • The Braves announced they have officially purchased the contracts of outfielders Eric Young, Jr. and Kelly Johnson, left-hander Eric Stults, and right-hander Cody Martin. The Braves cleared space on their 40-man roster by placing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino and outfielder Dian Toscano on the restricted list.
  • One name missing from the Braves‘ roster is Pedro Ciriaco, who was reported yesterday to have made the club. This is likely a procedural move, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter links), because the Braves placed Josh Outman on the 25-man roster instead of releasing him after the left-hander complained of shoulder tenderness. The move will also buy the Braves some time to look for an upgrade over Ciriaco, tweets Bowman.
  • The Phillies have announced outfielder Jeff Francoeur and infielder Andres Blanco have made the team. Francoeur is just one of four outfielders on Philadelphia’s Opening Day roster, so he could see time as Grady Sizemore‘s platoon partner in right field. The Phillies are now at their 40-man limit.
  • The Marlins have selected the contract of utility player Don Kelly, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Kelly earned his spot with solid Spring Training line of .270/.357/.324 in 42 plate appearances. Frisaro reports the 35-year-old will backup both the corner infield and outfield spots, as well as serving as the team’s emergency third catcher.

Article XX(B) Free Agent Updates: Tuesday

Per the latest iteration of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players with six years of service time who finished the 2014 season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL but signed Minor League deals over the offseason are entitled to a $100K retention bonus if their new team wishes to assign them to the Minor Leagues. Otherwise, they must be added to the MLB roster or Major League disabled list. Players who do receive the retention bonus are also given June 1 opt-out dates in their Minor League pacts.

MLBTR’s Jeff Todd ran down a list of this year’s Article XX(B) free agents earlier in the month, and we’re now arriving at the juncture of Spring Training where decisions must be made on these players — the deadline will come at 11am CT tomorrow. Many such players have already been released or granted their release today (some will re-sign with the teams that released them, as Chris Perez did in Milwaukee), but here are updates on players who were paid this bonus or learned that they’ve made their respective teams…

  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that utility man Kelly Johnson has made the Braves‘ 25-man roster. Johnson inked a Minor League pact that included a yet-unreported base salary. His versatility, the organization’s familiarity with him and the fact that the 32-year-old slashed a hefty .273/.396/.523 with a pair of homers in 54 plate appearances this spring likely all factored into the decision.
  • The Nationals will pay left-hander Rich Hill the $100K retention bonus, tweets James Wagner of the Washington Post. The 35-year-old yielded a pair of runs in 7 1/3 innings this spring and will give the Nats some left-handed relief depth. Of course, the Nats also just traded away some lefty relief by dealing out-of-options southpaw Jerry Blevins and his $2.4MM salary to the Mets.

Earlier Updates

  • Padres catcher Wil Nieves has received a $100K retention bonus, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nieves is still in the running for the team’s backup catching slot, Lin adds. Tim Federowicz was slated to be the team’s backup, but knee surgery has sidelined him for the next several months. The team must make a final call by this Sunday.
  • The D-Backs and catcher Gerald Laird and agreed to a five-day extension that will allow him to remain in big league camp, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (on Twitter). Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic adds some clarity, noting that Laird still received the $100K retention bonus but will have the opportunity to fight for a roster spot (Twitter link). The five days will give the Snakes a bit more time to determine whether or not they want to take the veteran Laird north with them to open the season.
  • The Blue Jays have paid the $100K retention bonus to both Johan Santana and Munenori Kawasaki, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Both players were on Minor League deals, but Santana didn’t get into a game with the big league club as he continued to rehab from injury. Kawasaki hit .333/.481/.571 in 27 plate appearances but didn’t make the big league roster. He’ll head to Triple-A and wait for a call to the Majors in an organization with which he is quite familiar and where he is quite popular among the coaches and his teammates.
  • Right-handers Brad Penny and Jesse Crain both received retention bonuses from the White Sox, Passan also reports (on Twitter). The duo will remain in the Minors in the hopes of a spot opening with the big league club. Penny struggled to a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings this spring, though little can be gleaned from such a small sample, and he did issue only four walks along the way. Crain, like his former Twins teammate Santana in Toronto, didn’t pitch in a big league game as he continued to rehab from injuries that cost him the entire 2014 season in Houston.
  • Both Geovany Soto and Matt Albers, on the other hand, have made the White Sox‘ roster and will be added to the 40-man, Passan reports in the aforementioned tweet. Presumably, Soto will be in the mix for everyday at-bats behind the plate following a strong spring performance. Albers will slot into the bullpen and bring an experienced arm to serve as a right-handed setup option. Soto’s base salary is an unknown, wheres Albers stands to reportedly receive a $1.5MM base for making the club.

Braves To Sign Kelly Johnson To MiLB Deal

The Braves have agreed to sign infielder Kelly Johnson to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports on Twitter. The 32-year-old is a client of Relativity Baseball.

Johnson spent his first ten years of professional baseball in the Atlanta organization, including parts of four seasons at the big league level. In the interim, he has played for the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, and Orioles.

All said, Johnson has produced at an approximately league average rate at the plate, with a career .250/.333/.423 slash at the MLB level. He’ll deliver some much-needed punch to the new-look Atlanta lineup: his 131 lifetime home runs average out to 18 per 162 games, and Johnson owns a .173 ISO over his 4,471 plate appearances.

It is worth noting, however, that a large portion of those numbers are wrapped up in (and before) a big 2010 season. More recent figures are less encouraging, and last year was perhaps Johnson’s worst as a big leaguer. In 297 total plate appearances, he slashed .215/.296/.362 with seven home runs.

On the other side of the scorebook, Johnson has generally graded out as an approximately average performer at second base, where he has spent most of his time. Johnson has also played third, left field, and a touch of first base.

The Braves will presumably give Johnson a chance to earn a super-utility/bench bat role. He should have at least some chance of unseating presumptive starters Alberto Callaspo (2B) and Chris Johnson (3B) at some point during the year, depending upon how things shake out.



Orioles Acquire Kelly Johnson

The Orioles have announced that they’ve acquired infielders Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar from the Red Sox for infielders Jemile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus. This is the Orioles’ second significant trade of the evening, having also recently acquired outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox. The Johnson deal gives the Orioles a bit of low-cost infield depth.

Johnson, 32, began the season with the Yankees, then headed to Boston in a trade for Stephen Drew. (He also played for the Rays in 2013 and the Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012, meaning that he’s now been or will be on the roster of all five AL East teams, with no non-AL East teams in between.) He’s played mostly third base and first base since 2012, and he’s hit .212/.290/.354 for the season. With the Orioles, he’ll likely play mostly at third base in the wake of the team’s loss of Manny Machado for the rest of the year.

The Orioles selected Almanzar from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, but returned him in early July. Since then, he’s hit .280/.360/.427 in 186 plate appearances for Double-A Portland, mostly playing third base. At 23, he’s the youngest player in the deal.

Weeks was a first-round draft pick by the Athletics in 2008, and they sent him to Baltimore in 2013 in the Jim Johnson trade. The 27-year-old Weeks played in 215 games with the A’s in 2011 and 2012 but has spent most of the past two seasons in the minors. This season, he’s hit .278/.391/.385 in 254 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk. Despite the high on-base percentage, the second baseman probably profiles mostly as depth at this point, although CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam tweets that Weeks will join the Red Sox’ big-league team. (Dustin Pedroia may have suffered a concussion in Saturday’s game, but the timing of Weeks’ acquisition appears to be a coincidence.)

De Jesus, who heads back to the Red Sox after spending a few months in the organization in 2012, also appears to be mostly a depth player. De Jesus came to Boston from the Dodgers in the Adrian Gonzalez / Carl Crawford / Josh Beckett blockbuster, then headed to Pittsburgh almost immediately as the Red Sox traded for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt. The Pirates showed little interest in him despite a strong offensive season in Triple-A in 2013, and he signed with the Orioles after the season. The 27-year-old hit .282/.358/.389 in 469 plate appearances for Norfolk this year, mostly playing shortstop.


Placed On Revocable Waivers: Friday

With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline behind us, Major League teams must place players on revocable trade waivers in order to deal them to another club. A player that clears waivers can be dealt to any team, while a player that is claimed on waivers can be dealt to that team only (within 48.5 hours) or simply pulled back off waivers. A player can be placed on waivers a second time after being pulled back, but the waivers are no longer revocable the second time.

Here’s Friday’s rundown of which players have been placed on revocable waivers…

  • Both Ichiro Suzuki and Brendan Ryan have been placed on revocable waivers by the Yankees, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Neither player has hit much this season, with the 40-year-old Ichiro slashing .276/.324/.321 and the 32-year-old Ryan hitting just .214/.263/.257. Both come with good defensive reputations despite their light bats. Ichiro, guaranteed $1.85MM through season’s end, is a free agent this winter. Ryan has $568K of this season’s $2MM salary remaining and is guaranteed $2MM in 2015 as well. He has a $1MM player option for the 2016 campaign.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have placed left-hander Craig Breslow and infielder Kelly Johnson on revocable waivers (Twitter link). Breslow, who turns 34 today, has struggled this year and endured a rough patch of late, surrendering a dozen runs in his past 15 2/3 innings. The typically effective southpaw has been hit hard by both righties and lefties en route to a 5.01 ERA this season. He’s owed $1.09MM through year’s end, plus a $100K buyout on a $4MM option.
  • Johnson, 32, has been on the disabled list since being acquired by the Red Sox in exchange for Stephen Drew at the deadline. He batted .219/.304/.373 with the Yankees this year and is owed $852K through the end of the year. While Johnson is a versatile piece that has in the past offered both power and speed, he’s hit just six homers this year. Still, he could serve as a low-cost bench addition to a contending team.
  • The Mets have placed Curtis Granderson on revocable waivers, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark (via ESPN New York colleague Adam Rubin). Granderson, 33, is hitting .224/.330/.392 with 15 homers and eight steals in the first year of a four-year, $60MM pact inked with the Mets. He’s owed $3.69MM through season’s end plus another $47MM from 2015-17, making for a total of $50.69MM remaining on his deal. Granderson got off to a terrible start but is hitting .249/.353/.443 with 14 homers since May 1. Then again, he’s also been slumping of late. A claim seems unlikely, given the sizable sum remaining on his contract. If Granderson goes unclaimed, he could be dealt to any team, but that also seems unlikely in the first year of a four-year contract.
  • Of note is that Stark also reports that Bartolo Colon has yet to hit waivers, though one would expect that the Mets will run him through the process at some point.

For a more complete explanation of how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR’s August Trades primer. You can also check out MLBTR’s list of players that have cleared revocable waivers to see who is eligible to be traded to any team.


Yankees, Red Sox Swap Johnson For Drew

3:17pm: Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com tweets that the Yankees will pay nearly all of the nearly $5MM that remains on Drew’s deal. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Drew will play second base for the Yankees.

2:46pm: WEEI’s Alex Speier tweets that New York is sending Kelly Johnson to Boston.

2:43pm: The Yankees are acquiring Stephen Drew from the Red Sox, reports ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes (Twitter link).

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays

The 31-year-old Drew was linked to the Yankees for much of the offseason but elected to wait until midseason before signing a one-year deal worth the pro-rated verstion of the $14.1MM qualifying offer which he rejected. His return to Boston hasn’t gone well, as he’s slashed just .176/.255/.328 in 145 plate appearances. D

rew’s bat has picked up over the past two weeks, as he’s hit .267/.377/.511 with a pair of homers, but the overall numbers still look grim. He seems likely to see time at some combination of second base and third base, with Derek Jeter still manning shortstop. Drew is a free agent at season’s end and cannot receive a qualifying offer.

The departure of Drew will allow the Red Sox to shift Xander Bogaerts back over to shortstop, while Johnson can serve as a stopgap at third base while Will Middlebrooks heals from an injury.


Latest On The First Base Trade Market

First basemen who “are available” to be traded include the Yankees’ Kelly Johnson, the Phillies’ John Mayberry Jr., the Nationals’ Tyler Moore and the Pirates’ Gaby Sanchez, sources tell Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News.  Johnson and Sanchez are new additions to the rumor mill, while Mayberry and Moore have both been recently cited as possible trade chips.

The quartet is cited in the context of Mitch Moreland‘s season-ending ankle surgery, leaving the Rangers dealing with yet another major injury.  Despite losing a host of notable players to the DL, Texas is still just 2.5 games behind Seattle for the last AL wild card slot, and could still be looking to make additions down the stretch.  Texas had previously had exploratory talks with the Nationals about Moore, though MLB.com’s Bill Ladson noted those talks weren’t serious.

Johnson has played 23 games at first for the Yankees this season, though he has spent the large majority of his career as a second baseman (plus some time at third and in left field).  Despite Yangervis Solarte‘s emergence, the Yankees’ infield depth is still thin, so it would be somewhat surprising to see New York move a versatile player like Johnson elsewhere.  Johnson is still owed roughly $1.845MM from the one-year, $3MM deal he signed with the Yankees last winter.

Sanchez was the subject of some trade rumors last year, though he remained with the Bucs as the right-handed hitting half of a first base platoon.  While he has a solid .255/.303/.510 slash line with five homers in 109 PA this year, Sanchez has made almost twice as many plate appearances against righties as he has against lefties since the Pirates have faced an unusually large amount of right-handed starters; Pittsburgh hitters as a whole have made only 366 PA against lefties in 2014, by far the lowest in the majors.  Sanchez has a career .903 OPS against southpaws against just a .700 OPS against righties, so he could certainly provide a contender with a useful part-time or bench bat.

Rangers first basemen have combined for -0.9 fWAR this season, and five other teams (the Twins, Astros, Indians, Royals and Mariners) have also received sub-replacement level production from their first basemen.


Yankees Sign Kelly Johnson

The Yankees have signed Kelly Johnson to a one-year contract, the team announced today.  Terms of the deal weren't made public but ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the deal is for exactly $3MM (Twitter link), giving Johnson a small raise from the $2.45MM he earned with Tampa Bay in 2013.  Johnson is represented by Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX Baseball), according to the MLBTR Agency Database.

Johnson has primarily played second base over the course of his career but he also offers experience at left field and saw some time at third base in 2013.  He currently stands as the Yankees' top option to replace Robinson Cano at second base, and if New York signs another second baseman, Johnson also serves as an insurance policy for Alex Rodriguez at third.  Johnson, 32 in February, owns a career slash line of .253/.335/.427 across eight seasons with the Braves, D'Backs, Blue Jays, and Rays. Over the last three seasons, however, he has slashed just .226/.307/.395.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to report the agreement had been reached and that Johnson would be paid in the $3MM-range, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post.


Yankees Close To Signing Kelly Johnson

WEDNESDAY: Johnson's deal may end up being in the $3-4MM range upon completion, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

TUESDAY: The Yankees are close to signing Kelly Johnson to a one-year deal worth $2.75-$3MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).  The plan is for Johnson to move around the diamond and serve as a potential second base option if Robinson Cano goes elsewhere.

Johnson has primarily played second base over the course of his career but he also offers experience at left field and saw some time at third base in 2013.  Johnson, 32 in February, owns a career slash line of .253/.335/.427 across eight seasons with the Braves, D'Backs, Blue Jays, and Rays.  Over the last three seasons, however, he has slashed just .226/.307/.395.

The deal marks a small pay raise for the veteran, who made $2.45MM with Tampa Bay in 2013.  Johnson is represented by Relativity Baseball, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.


AL East Rumors: Johnson, Bautista, Granderson, Choo

Yankees free agent Curtis Granderson joined Ken Rosenthal on MLB Network's Hot Stove to discuss his offseason thus far.  The outfielder told Rosenthal that the number one thing he's looking for is to sign with a winner.  More from the AL East..

  • With uncertainty over Alex Rodriguez and the future of Robinson Cano, the Yankees have contacted free agent Kelly Johnson, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Johnson has primarily played second base over the course of his career but he also offers experience at left field and saw some time at third base in 2013.
  • It's not a huge surprise, but teams are inquiring on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).  Whether they are willing to move him is another story.
  • Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran are targets 1 and 1A for the Yankees, a person familiar with their thinking tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Fellow outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury sits a hair behind the other two stars.
  • Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (on Twitter) also hears that the Yankees are serious about their pursuit of Beltran.
  • Former Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves is working out in Mexico and drawing interest from multiple teams, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
  • The Blue Jays' priority is improving the rotation, but they're also keeping an eye out for help at second base and catcher, writes Heyman.  It's no surprise to hear that they're interested in Robinson Cano, but his price tag will probably prove to be too much since they need to direct their bucks towards starting pitching.
  • Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains why Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, and Stephen Drew all turned down the $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Red Sox.