Kelly Johnson Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: Dodgers, Mets, Hamels, Jays, Astros

An elite starting pitcher was a luxury good for the Dodgers, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That’s why Los Angeles passed on talents like Cole Hamels, David Price, and Johnny Cueto despite possessing the prospect depth to acquire their pick of the litter. Instead, the club flexed its financial might to acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and Jose Peraza. The biggest piece dealt away by the Dodgers was 30-year-old Cuban infielder Hector Olivera. The utility man has not yet reached the majors after signing a six-year, $62.5MM deal with the Dodgers. A full $28MM of that was in the form of a signing bonus.

Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Cynics may find a way to criticize the Mets deadline transactions. Perhaps they didn’t add enough to the payroll or were too small minded? However, the moves for Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe provided essential upgrades to a roster that was showing signs of stress. GM Sandy Alderson deserves kudos for improving the club while working within tight constraints. To me, this was Rosenthal’s money quote, “Mets fans will not be satisfied –€“ and should not be satisfied –€“ until the team raises its payroll to a level more commensurate with the New York market.
  • Echoing the sentiments of many analysts, both the Phillies and Rangers did well in the Hamels trade. With the Phillies taking on Matt Harrison and chipping in cash, the Rangers will pay Hamels an average of $13MM to $14MM per season if his option vests. They also hung onto top prospects Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. On Philadelphia’s end, acquiring three quality prospects will do much to bolster their future.
  • The Blue Jays, unlike the Dodgers, are often described as a cash strapped organization. Instead of taking on payroll like L.A., the Blue Jays dealt 11 prospects and Jose Reyes to acquire Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe, and LaTroy Hawkins. They’re 6.5 games back in the AL East and 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot.
  • The Astros also spent their prospect chips for major league upgrades. They made the first deadline strike by acquiring Scott Kazmir then paid a princely sum for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. Interestingly, mid-market teams like the Astros, Blue Jays, Mets, and Royals used prospects in their search for October baseball. The Yankees and Dodgers opted to use money or stand pat.

Mets Acquire Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson

SUNDAY, 2:38pm: The Mets took on exactly $2.5MM in the deal, meaning that the Braves chipped in close to $500K, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

FRIDAY, 10:33pm: The Mets have officially acquired both Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from the division-rival Braves. Two minor league righties — John Gant and Rob Whalen — will head to Atlanta in return.

New York will also absorb about $2.7MM in salary, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). That’s not quite the full amount owed to the two acquired players, but Atlanta is chipping in some salary, per Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter).

Jul 21, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves third baseman Juan Uribe (2) singles on a fly ball scoring a run in the fifth inning of their game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Both Uribe and Johnson would provide options at positions of need for New York. With David Wright still out indefinitely, third base has become a pressing concern, and adding a left-handed corner outfield bat remains a priority. Both of the veterans provide options at the hot corner, and the left-handed-hitting Johnson has ample experience in left.

Uribe, 36, has hit an excellent .285/.353/.464 since coming to Atlanta in a deal with the Dodgers earlier in the year. While his glove hasn’t rated out as highly as it used to, there’s little question that he represents a reliable option at the hot corner. Uribe is owed $6.5MM this season.

Meanwhile, the 33-year-old Johnson has been a solid presence in Atlanta since joining the team on a minor league pact. He owns a .275/.321/.451 slash with nine home runs. By making the club, he earned a $1.5MM guarantee for the season.

As for the return to the Braves, Whalen is the name that has appeared on prospect sheets more frequently. He rated as the Mets organization’s 20th-best prospect entering the season, according to Baseball America, which praised his curve ball and promising additional offspeed offerings. Whalen has a reasonably high ceiling despite the lack of a huge fastball. He has not been quite as effective this year, his first at St. Lucie, but still owns a 3.36 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9 over 83 innings.

Meanwhile, Gant earned a quick promotion after six excellent starts to open the year. He’s slowed down now that he’s at Binghamton, with a 4.70 ERA and 6.5 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 in 59 1/3 frames. Gant is a “solid back-end type” with four useful pitchers, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs on Twitter, who provides video of both of Atlanta’s newest additions and assesses them as likely big league contributors.

Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter link)first reported that a deal to send Uribe and Johnson to the Mets was close. Joel Sherman of the New York Post (links to Twitter) reported the return. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported (via Twitter) that the deal was done.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL Notes: Tulo, Teheran, Braves, Reds, Niese

In an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM, Rockies GM Jeff Bridich said that he is “at least open to considering” a deal involving star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (Twitter link). Last we checked in, Tulowitzki said he was not interested in being dealt, and he is believed to have significant sway with club ownership over his status. All said, there remains little reason to believe at present that Tulo is a serious trade candidate.

We already touched upon a series of interesting rumors involving National League clubs earlier today, but here’s the latest out of the NL:

  • Despite recent chatter that the Braves could consider dealing starter Julio Teheran, the young righty is “not being shopped,” David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. Given his cheap control, O’Brien says the team would need to be overwhelmed by an offer to consider such a move.
  • Indeed, the Braves are more likely to hold off on deciding whether to part with Teheran or outfielder Cameron Maybin, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. The more likely trade pieces for Atlanta, he suggests, are veterans on one-year deals such as reliever Jim Johnson, utilityman Kelly Johnson, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The Braves have been asked about outfielder Nick Markakis, who still has three years left on his free agent deal, but the team is not making him available. And while Juan Uribe could well be dealt, the club reportedly prefers to attempt to move Chris Johnson first.
  • An executive of a club with interest in adding a hitter says the Reds are giving the impression that they are looking to “save money” wherever possible, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. That seemingly speaks to the availability of outfielder Jay Bruce, who recent reports indicate is very much in play.
  • The Mets are still willing to deal Jon Niese, but are asking for a player with multiple years of control in return, Stark tweets. The southpaw has turned up his performance of late, racking up eight straight quality starts (at least 6 innings pitched, no more than 3 earned runs) since a run of rough outings to end the month of May. He is playing on a $7MM salary this year and represents a $9MM tab for 2016, but can be controlled thereafter through a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, respectively, each with $500K buyouts). Given New York’s evident budgetary restrictions, it has seemed that moving Niese’s salary could be a way for the club to free resources to allocate to the struggling offense, but it’s not clear whether they’ll have much hope of pulling that off in a single transaction.


NL East Notes: C. Johnson, K. Johnson, Parra, deGrom, Prado

The Braves have been determined to deal away Chris Johnson for some time, and the third baseman tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that he hopes to find a new home. “I’ve been called in the manager’s office,” said Johnson. “[Manager Fredi Gonzalez] has told me they are trying to move me. I want to be moved, and they want to move me. Hopefully, something gets done.”While saying he’s enjoyed his time in Atlanta, Johnson emphasized that he is interested in receiving a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere. Obviously, the Braves are looking to shave off as much of Johnson’s contract as possible. Under the extension he signed early in the 2014 campaign, he is due roughly $19.99MM (including $2.52MM for this season and the buyout of a 2018 option).

A bit more on the Braves and their division…

  • Kelly Johnson has parlayed a minor league deal into a critical role on the Braves, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Johnson credits first-year hitting coach Kevin Seitzer with helping him to shorten his swing and improve his overall approach at the plate. Of course, as a veteran on a one-year deal with a losing team, Johnson’s name may pop up over the next few days as a trade candidate; I listed him and three others Braves when looking at the trade market for third basemen earlier today.
  • The Mets continue to be intrigued by Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. They’re also looking at Justin Upton and Carlos Gomez, though multiple reporters (most recently Marc Carig of Newsday, who also reported interest in Parra late last week) have characterized that type of high profile acquisition as a long shot. Parra, Heyman notes, is drawing quite a bit of interest around the league.
  • Peter Gammons relays an anecdote from the 2012 trade deadline that could have vastly reshaped the current state of two franchises. When the Red Sox and Mets were discussing a trade for veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach, Boston initially asked about right-hander Jacob deGrom, who had recently undergone surgery. (deGrom was never projected to become the ace that he presently is, of course, and he had just undergone surgery.) However, after talking it over with his minor league evaluators, GM Sandy Alderson and the Mets passed. The two sides eventually lined up on a deal that sent right-hander Pedro Beato to Boston.
  • Marlins third baseman Martin Prado tells Zach Buchanan and Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic that he’s not concerned with the possibility that he could be traded for the third time in the past year. Prado says there’s no sense in thinking, “Oh my goodness, this is going to happen again,” and he’s instead focused on helping his teammates out. He’s candid when addressing the current state of the Marlins, however. “We’re in a pretty bad situation here,” says Prado. “I’m just trying to bring good energy for my teammates and my team. That’s all I can do right now.”

NL East Notes: Hamels, Braves, Pierzynski, Rizzo

Assuming normal rest, Cole Hamels is scheduled to start for the Phillies on July 19, July 25 and July 31, Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes.  That July 31st start is a night game, so Hamels could be scratched if he’s dealt prior to the deadline earlier that afternoon (assuming he hasn’t already been traded before the 31st).  Here’s some more from Philadelphia and elsewhere around the NL East…

  • The Braves had discussed packaging Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson together in trade talks, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports, with the idea that two relievers would bring back a larger return from a bullpen-needy team. That plan was scuttled when Grilli suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon tear yesterday, though Johnson remains a trade candidate.
  • Bowman’s piece lists several possible trade chips on the Braves roster, including Johnson, Chris Johnson, Kelly Johnson, Cameron Maybin, Juan Uribe and A.J. Pierzynski.  In regards to Pierzynski, Bowman believes Atlanta will try to bring the catcher back in 2016 even if they do trade him this year.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo broadly discussed his team’s general deadline plans with reporters, including Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post.  The Nats lineup will be boosted by the returns of several stars from the DL, and while Janes feels Washington could use another relief arm, Rizzo praised the job done by current relievers like Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen.
  • It’s only a matter of time before Aaron Nola is promoted to the majors, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes, and he believes the Phillies could call Nola up within “the next couple of weeks, possibly in tandem with a trade deadline move.”  This is just my speculation, but promoting Nola to fill Hamels’ roster spot would be a good the-future-is-now type of move.
  • Several scouts believe former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto would be a good fit as the Phillies‘ next general manager, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets.  Interestingly, Dipoto’s former assistant GM in Anaheim, Matt Klentak, has also been mentioned in connection to a job in the new Andy MacPhail-run Phillies front office.
  • In NL East news from earlier today, the Pirates have interest in Phillies outfielders Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur.

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.