Kelly Johnson Rumors

Rays Sign Kelly Johnson

The Rays announced that they have signed second baseman Kelly Johnson to a one-year deal. The SFX client will earn $2.45MM in 2013, according to the team.

The addition of Johnson will allow Tampa Bay to play Ben Zobrist in right field, but the club is expected to still use Zobrist at second base at times and Johnson may play some outfield, Ken Rosenthal tweets.  Johnson, who turns 31 next month, hasn't played in the outfield since his debut season in 2005 with the Braves.

Johnson hit .225/.313/.365 with 16 homers in 581 plate appearances for the Blue Jays in 2012.  For his career, Johnson owns a .255/.338/.429 slash line across seven seasons.  

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported the agreement.


Heyman On Abreu, Blue Jays, Rays

The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links)…

  • The Marlins and Rays are among the possibilities for Bobby Abreu, Heyman reports. Abreu, 38 in March, hopes to extend his career following an unremarkable offensive season in 2012.
  • The Blue Jays are still in the bullpen market along with the Mets, Heyman reports. The Marlins, Astros and Dodgers might also be involved in pursuit of relievers, Heyman adds. Here are the details on the Mets’ bullpen targets.
  • The Rays will likely officially announce their deals with Kyle Farnsworth, Luke Scott and Kelly Johnson next week, Heyman reports.

Quick Hits: Atchison, Garcia, Vazquez, Dodgers

Free agent right-hander Javier Vazquez is getting his right meniscus repaired by one of the Marlins’ team doctors this Wednesday, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (Twitter links). The right-hander is expected to be throwing at full strength within two to three weeks. Though seven teams have expressed serious interest in Vazquez, he has not made a decision about playing in 2013 as of now. Here are some more links from around MLB…

  • Right-hander Scott Atchison expects to sign a minor league deal with a team other than the Red Sox this week, writes MLB.com's Evan Drellich. Atchison told Drellich it the team he's closing in on will give him a good chance to make the Major League bullpen. Atchison was diagnosed with a partial UCL tear last August but has had "great results" in letting it heal with rest and rehab.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Pirates expressed interest in Freddy Garcia, but the 36-year-old hurler elected to sign a minor league deal with the Padres instead.
  • Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers have officially agreed to a 25-year, $7 billion TV deal, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reports. The agreement will lead to the creation of a new regional sports network for the Los Angeles area; SportsNet L.A will launch in 2014.
  • The Rays signed free agent infielder Kelly Johnson today, but that won’t stop Ben Zobrist from playing “a lot” of second base for Tampa Bay, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Johnson, who played 79 games in left field as a rookie in 2005, will bounce around.
  • Michael Bourn still wants a five-year deal, yet the Mets aren't willing to go there, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (on Twitter). Here’s an explanation of how the Mets wanted to sign Bourn while keeping their first round draft pick this coming season.


Twins Notes: Podsednik, Sweeney, Parra, Bartlett

Despite indications to the contrary, the Twins never called to inquire about the availability of pitcher Anibal Sanchez, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500.  Sanchez, of course, re-signed with the Tigers for five years and $80MM earlier this offseason.  Here's more out of Minnesota, courtesy of Wolfson..

  • The Twins still have interest in free agent outfielder Scott Podsednik, but they're not looking to sign free agent outfielder Ryan Sweeney.  We recently learned that the Mets aren't among the teams in on Podsednik.  The club had brief talks with Sweeney's representatives earlier in the winter.
  • Minnesota had interest in signing free agent starter Freddy Garcia in December but they haven't checked in on him since.  The Twins have also cut off contact with free agent pitcher Manny Parra.  The Twins, along with the Reds and Rockies, were said to be interested in Garcia late last year.
  • The Twins have not inquired about free agent shortstop Jason Bartlett, nor free agent second baseman Kelly Johnson.
  • The Twins never made an offer to shortstop Cesar Izturis, who signed a minor league deal with the Reds on Wednesday.  General Manager Terry Ryan & Co. never had an interest in free agent starter Aaron Cook before he signed with the Phillies either.  
  • Minnesota could have free agent starter Armando Galarraga on a minor league deal but aren't interested in him.  The right-hander hooked on with the Astros on a minor league contract last year after being cut by the Orioles.

Blue Jays Notes: Bullpen, Romero, Johnson, Villanueva

MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm provides a look at the Blue Jays upcoming offseason and tackles a host of free agent issues in the process:

  • Of the team's four free agents — Kelly Johnson, Brandon Lyon, Jason Frasor and Carlos Villanueva — the most likely to return is Frasor or Lyon. The bullpen has become a position of depth, however, with the acquisitions of Steve Delabar and Brad Lincoln. Sergio Santos should return in 2013 as well. That could mean all four free agents will find new homes.
  • The team has no interest in shopping Ricky Romero and selling on the left-hander when his value is at an all-time low.
  • There doesn't appear to be much interest in retaining Johnson, according to Chisholm. The team once had eyes on bringing Marco Scutaro back to Toronto, but his torrid run with the Giants has likely made him too spendy. Instead, Adeiny Hechavarria or Mike Aviles could take the role.
  • The Blue Jays aren't willing to give Villanueva a multi-year deal and an opportunity to pitch out of the rotation — two things that the free agent is seeking. He'll likely pitch elsewhere in 2013.
  • Anibal Sanchez will probably get an "extended look," according to Chisholm, but it's more likely that GM Alex Anthopoulos will upgrade the rotation via trade.

Blue Jays Plan To Shop Aggressively

The Blue Jays plan to shop aggressively for upgrades this offseason, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The team will seek solutions in the starting rotation, at second base and in left field.

The Blue Jays are unlikely to re-sign Kelly Johnson after a disappointing season from the 30-year-old second baseman, Rosenthal reports. And Yunel Escobar, who recently served a three-game suspension for writing a homophobic slur under his eyes, “is a goner,” according to Rosenthal.

The Blue Jays are short on veterans to guide the team’s younger players in Rosenthal’s opinion. A free agent such as Torii Hunter would be a fit in Toronto, Rosenthal writes. GM Alex Anthopoulos will consider the possibility of adding experienced contributors.

“I don’t think it ever hurts to have as many veteran complements as you can,” Anthopoulos said. “That’s something we’ll definitely look to do if we can.”


Rosenthal On Red Sox, Blue Jays, Greinke, A’s

We hear a lot of talk about buyers and sellers this time of year, but as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out in his latest column, some teams will do neither this summer and other teams will do both. Here are Rosenthal’s latest notes with less than four weeks to go before July 31st:

  • The Red Sox could be positioned to trade an outfielder this month if their rehabbing players return as expected. Boston figures to pursue starting depth in trades; the Red Sox aren’t considering trades involving Josh Beckett.
  • The Yankees will probably not sign Josh Hamilton or Cole Hamels this offseason, since they aim to avoid the MLB luxury tax by 2014 and that means cutting back on extravagant free agent signings.
  • Under GM Frank Wren the Braves won more games while spending less money than every team but the Rays from 2009-11, Rosenthal notes. 
  • If the Blue Jays trade players on the brink of free agency such as Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson, they’d look to acquire players who can help them win next year. And if the Blue Jays don’t like what other teams are offering, they’ll keep their potential free agents. Toronto’s not likely to overpay in a “go for it” trade, Rosenthal writes.
  • The Blue Jays aren’t trading Colby Rasmus, who has become more driven, according to a team official. 
  • Rosenthal suggests the Athletics could look to acquire players midseason if they stay in the playoff mix. Bartolo Colon is the player the A’s are most likely to trade, Rosenthal writes.
  • The Mets are actively seeking relief help, but it’s highly doubtful they’d trade for Huston Street, who publicly criticized Mets bench coach Bob Geren last year. The Mets, who insist they won’t trade top prospects, are likely to wait until the end of the month before making any trades.
  • The Cardinals wouldn’t be willing to meet the Brewers’ asking price for Zack Greinke, Rosenthal notes. St. Louis is more likely to pursue a mid-rotation starter.
  • The Diamondbacks believe they need a third baseman more than a starting pitcher.

Blue Jays Interested In Starting Pitching

The Blue Jays recently signed Jamie Moyer to add depth to a rotation that's seen Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and Brandon Morrow hit the disabled list in recent weeks, and their search for pitching reinforcements won’t end with the 49-year-old left-hander. Officials of three teams describe the Blue Jays as being in a “full court press” for rotation help, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. The 38-38 Blue Jays maintain a buyer’s stance, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report.

The team recently sent multiple scouts to at least two of Wandy Rodriguez’s starts, Rosenthal and Morosi report. The club has also maintained contact with the Cubs about Matt Garza, FOX reports. The Blue Jays prefer to acquire players who are under team control for an extended period and Rodriguez (team control through 2013 or 2014) and Garza (through 2013) are more than rental players. 

The Blue Jays are giving “little indication” that they intend to trade potential free agents Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson, Rosenthal and Morosi write. Scouts are saying they’ve been told Encarnacion is available for the “right” pitcher, Stark reports. Yet one person told Stark Encarnacion is "not available, as far as I know." Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.com wrote earlier today that the Blue Jays would have multiple suitors if they make Encarnacion available.

Stark suggests the Blue Jays could have interest in recently designated Cubs starter Randy Wells.


AL East Notes: Epstein, Cherington, Encarnacion

It was on this day in 1996 that Cal Ripken Jr. became professional baseball's all-time iron man.  Though Ripken eclipsed Lou Gehrig's Major League record for consecutive games played in 1995, it took a while longer to surpass Japan's Sachio Kinugasa, who played in 2215 NPL straight games between 1970 and 1987.

Here's some news from both Ripken's Orioles and elsewhere around the AL East…

  • Theo Epstein spoke to media (including WEEI.com's Alex Speier) about his days as the Red Sox general manager, noting that he felt some of the club's free agent signings deviated from the franchise's long-term plan and were made due to the pressure of staying competitive.  It's a must-read piece for Red Sox fans, not to mention Cubs fans who could see what Epstein hopes to avoid during his tenure in Chicago.
  • We’re going to go see hundreds of players over the next few weeks,” Red Sox GM Ben Cherington tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “We may end up just acquiring one of those or none of them. In this particular year, we do believe we’re going to get impact players just by getting healthy. Still, we have to come together. I think this team still will be very good.”
  • The Blue Jays could look to move Edwin Encarnacion, Kelly Johnson or "any bullpen piece" at the trade deadline if the team isn't in serious contention, opines FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi in a radio interview with the Brady & Lang show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan (Sportsnet.ca's Jeff Simmons has a partial transcript).
  • Encarnacion's breakout season could put him in line for a big free agent contract this winter but Morosi says "a lot of GMs are wary" about Encarnacion's ability to play first base on a regular basis. "If you're viewed as a DH, that will affect his valuation going forward," Morosi said.  "So we'll see how often he plays in the field and not having [Vladimir Guerrero] coming will certainly change how often he'll play first base."
  • The Orioles and Blue Jays have both been scouting the Cubs, reports Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago.  Levine specified that Baltimore was looking at the Cubs' starting pitchers and Alfonso Soriano.
  • For more AL East news, check out this batch of Yankees notes and the latest on the Kevin Youkilis trade rumors.

East Notes: Loria, Johnson, Chavez, Qualls

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is today's headliner after agreeing to a hefty long-term contract extension that could keep him in a Washington uniform through 2020. Here are a few more odds and ends out of baseball's East divisions …

  • Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said he intends to own the Marlins for "as long as I live," writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Loria is 71 and entering his 11th season as owner of the Fish.
  • The Blue Jays are open to the possibility of signing second baseman Kelly Johnson to a multiyear extension, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. Johnson was a free agent this offseason but accepted the Jays' arbitration offer after receiving underwhelming offers, likely because of his Type A status under the old collective bargaining agreement. The Jays and Johnson settled on a $6.375MM salary.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter said there was lots of competition to sign outfielder Endy Chavez this offseason, tweets Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Chavez said four or five teams were interested.
  • The Phillies were scouting reliever Chad Qualls as early as last season, when he was with the Padres, writes Adam Berry of MLB.com. The sides were in touch throughout the offseason, and the Phils eventually signed the right-hander to a one-year deal on Jan. 31 when his asking price came "way down," according to assistant GM Scott Proefrock.