Kelly Johnson Rumors
Twins minor leaguer Kyle Gibson, the No. 22 overall draft pick in 2009, will undergo Tommy John surgery, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Best wishes to Gibson on making a full recovery and perhaps debuting in the Majors late in 2012.
Here are a few other items of note on this Thursday afternoon:
- The Brewers were interested in acquiring lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez from the Orioles before Baltimore dealt him to Texas, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “We had the irons in the fire,” Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin said. The Brew Crew remains without a southpaw in their bullpen.
- The Diamondbacks were among the five winners of August's post-deadline trade period, opines Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. Arizona shored up its infield by acquiring infielders John McDonald and Aaron Hill from Toronto in exchange for Kelly Johnson. Morosi's other winners: The Rangers, Tigers, Braves and Indians.
- Impending free agents, however established they may be, should still be scouted dilligently, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). For example, though some of us may take it for granted that Albert Pujols' fractured wrist is fully healed, scouts from interested teams will be watching all of his final at-bats for even the slightest change in his swing or approach. After all, Bowden explains, with tens, and sometimes hundreds, of millions of dollars at stake, every bit of info helps.
Talk of draft pick compensation, club options and future salaries is valid after any trade, including the one the Diamondbacks just made with the Blue Jays. But the D’Backs didn’t make this move with an eye on future seasons or drafts.
“This deal was really made with a focus on ‘how do we get better for the next five weeks and stay ahead of the Giants’,” GM Kevin Towers explained this evening on a conference call with reporters.
Ever since Stephen Drew’s season ended, the D’Backs have been short-handed up the middle. They wanted to rely on Willie Bloomquist less, so Towers and the Blue Jays discussed Aaron Hill, someone the D’Backs have been eyeing for a while. The second baseman isn’t having much of a season at the plate, but Towers says his power could return against National League pitching.
“We’re hoping that a change of scenery can not only spark our club, but spark these two guys,” Towers said, referring to Hill and John McDonald.
Even if Chase Field doesn’t coax extra base power out of Hill, who has a 36-homer season to his name, Towers won’t mind. The deal, which included the versatile McDonald, was about defense. Though Towers didn't express disappointment in Kelly Johnson’s defense, he did say he's looking forward to adding the pair of former Blue Jays to his infield.
Hill has two $8MM team options for 2012-13, yet they aren't a major consideration for the D'Backs at this point at this point. It was “doubtful” that Johnson (pictured) would have returned after 2012, according to Towers, so the D’Backs were willing to part with him for Hill, regardless of whether Hill returns to Arizona in 2012.
That Hill and McDonald strike out less than Johnson (132 Ks this year) is a bonus for Towers, who has been looking to reduce Arizona’s strikeout totals since last year. Plus, they’re two “great guys” who drew personal praise from Diamondbacks people and others in baseball.
For the two nice guys to finish first, the D’Backs will have to maintain their current one-game lead over the defending World Champion Giants. Arizona could even obtain more help this month, since Towers may not be done dealing yet.
“We’ll keep working the phone lines until the end,” he said.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
The Blue Jays completed a trade with the Diamondbacks today, sending Aaron Hill and John McDonald to Arizona for Kelly Johnson. Here's the latest news from the AL East, starting with a note on today's trade...
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that Hill and McDonald cleared waivers earlier in the month (Twitter link). The deal started when Arizona GM Kevin Towers called about McDonald.
- Anthopoulos says he acquired Johnson from the D'Backs to get an up-close look at him before deciding how aggressively to pursue him this offseason when he hits free agency, according to Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com takes us inside Boston's front office in a must-read look at how the Red Sox approached the signing deadline. “Between 11:50 and 12 it was straight chaos,” one person told Speier. “Five people were on the phone at the same time with five different agents negotiating five different deals.”
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains that MLB teams, even rich ones like the Yankees, have to develop their own starting pitching, since the few elite starters who do reach free agency are prohibitively expensive.
- The Yankees have scouted Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish heavily, according to Sherman. Darvish, 25, "is coming" to the Major Leagues this offseason, according to one of Sherman's sources.
The Diamondbacks acquired second baseman Aaron Hill and shortstop John McDonald from the Blue Jays for Kelly Johnson, tweets John Gambadoro Sports 620 KTAR. Both teams confirmed the trade in a press release.
Johnson, a favorite of Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, has slumped to .209/.287/.412 in 481 plate appearances this year. He has $1.16MM remaining on his contract and projects as a high Type B in the National League. He's probably still at least a B in the AL, which has to be Toronto's motivation in acquiring the impending free agent.
Hill, 29, has been worse than Johnson at .225/.270/.313 in 429 plate appearances. His $8MM club option is expected to be declined after the season, at which point he'd be a Type B free agent. I'm not sure what Anthopoulos gets out of the swap. Maybe he thinks Johnson will be a Type A and will decline arbitration, or maybe he's just more inclined to offer arbitration to Johnson than Hill. Or, maybe he hopes to extend Johnson cheaply. Hill has about $990K remaining on his contract. McDonald, a defensive whiz, has about $300K remaining, so the money is pretty close.
From Arizona's point of view, McDonald can pitch in at shortstop with Willie Bloomquist, since Stephen Drew is out for the season. As for liking Hill over Johnson, perhaps GM Kevin Towers feels a change of scenery will help, or he prefers Hill's defense.
The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports...
- On Saturday Rosenthal talked about the "consensus in the game is that the Cubs need to show progress for GM Jim Hendry to keep his job beyond this season." Rosenthal, however, feels that the Ricketts family should extend Hendry, who in his estimation has built a team that is positioned to contend for the next several years. The club may have over $60MM to spend in 2012 salaries during the offseason, so the Cubs' GM, whoever it is, should be a major player in the free agent market.
- Rosenthal wonders whether the Indians will be willing to part with prospects for midseason reinforcements, having assembled much of their promising team through trades. Earlier this month, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith discussed the Indians' approach with GM Chris Antonetti.
- If the Diamondbacks want to acquire a pitcher, they're most likely to move Kelly Johnson according to Rosenthal. He feels that they'd be open to swapping Johnson for a starter "at a comparable salary and service level," though Johnson would need to start producing first. It's tough for me to identify a team positioned to swap a starter for Johnson, as well.
- Jered Weaver has the best stuff in the game, says Red Sox DH David Ortiz. Click here for my take on how much Weaver might earn in his 2012 contract year.
The Diamondbacks avoided arbitration with Kelly Johnson and agreed to a one-year deal, the team announced. Johnson will earn $5.85MM next year, according to the AP (via the Boston Herald). As our Arb Tracker shows, Johnson asked for $6.5MM and the D'Backs countered with a $4.7MM offer.
The Braves non-tendered Johnson before last season and he responded with career-highs in homers (26) and slugging percentage (.496). He added 36 doubles and a .370 OBP while playing second base. Johnson, 28, earned $2.35MM last year. He is set to hit free agency after the 2011 season.
Sunday night linkage..
- Kelly Johnson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
- Dodgers owner Frank McCourt needs to be more open and direct about his financial troubles, writes T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times.
- Before suffering a hip injury, Mariners pitcher David Aardsma was a major trade candidate. After undergoing surgery in December, the hurler is still unsure of when he'll be able to return, writes Larry LaRue of The News Tribune.
- Recent trades have weakened the Padres bullpen, says Bill Center of the Union-Tribune.
Eleven year ago today, the Ken Griffey Jr. era came to an end in Seattle. The Mariners traded their franchise player to the Reds for a four player package highlighted by Mike Cameron and Brett Tomko, and later that day Junior signed a nine-year, $116.5MM contract.
Here's a few links for the evening...
- Remember Ryan Drese? He signed with the Orioles according to this week's edition of minor league transactions, courtesy of Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Drese, a 14-game winner with the Rangers in 2004, last pitched in the big leagues in 2006. He spent last year in the independent Atlantic League.
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic hears that Kelly Johnson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Phoenix. Our Arbitration Tracker shows that Johnson filed for $6.5MM, and the team countered with $4.7MM.
- Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall chatted with fans at MLB.com today, and said he believes "the roster is set for the most part."
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier spoke to Manny Delcarmen's agent, who confirmed that his client had a Major League contract offer from a NL club, but choose the Mariners because of opportunity.
- MLB.com's Spencer Fordin spoke to Jose Reyes at a charity event today, and the shortstop said he's not thinking about his contract right now. Reyes can become a free agent for the first time after 2011.
- GM Kevin Towers said there's nothing to report about negotiations with Kelly Johnson, and the two sides still appear headed toward an arbitration hearing. Johnson filed for $6.5MM while the team countered with $4.7MM according to our Arbitration Tracker.
- Right-handed pitchers Rafael Rodriguez, Daniel Stange, and Brian Sweeney all cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Reno. Sweeney will join the Major League team in Spring Training as a non-roster invite. Rodriguez was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Armando Galarraga while Stange and Sweeney were cut for Aaron Heilman and Willie Bloomquist.
Some links from around the majors as the market for Vladimir Guerrero becomes a little clearer...
- When I looked at possible destinations for Guerrero last week, I listed the Rangers, Angels, Orioles and Blue Jays. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the Rays are not in on Guerrero, which makes sense, since they already added Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez (Twitter link).
- The Braves would like to trade Kenshin Kawakami this spring, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter). The Braves have a number of starting pitching options without Kawakami, especially now that they've signed Rodrigo Lopez.
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that he considers Kelly Johnson's arbitration case a tough one, but hopes to "create some dialogue" before the sides go to a hearing. As our Arb Tracker shows, Johnson asked for $6.5MM while the D'Backs countered with a $4.7MM offer.
- Longtime Astros right-hander Brandon Backe, who last pitched in the majors in June of 2009 and is recovering from a pair of shoulder operations, told Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner that he is working toward a possible comeback.
- The Dodgers signed right-hander Merkin Valdez to a minor league deal, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America. The 29-year-old appeared in two games for the Blue Jays last year after spending parts of three seasons with the Giants.