Reed Johnson Rumors

Marlins Re-Sign Reed Johnson

3:45pm: Johnson will earn $1.25MM in the Majors and can opt out of his contract on March 29 if he’s not added to the roster, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

3:05pm: The Marlins have agreed to a minor league deal with outfielder Reed Johnson, the club announced. The contract includes an invitation to major league camp.

Now 38, Johnson struggled last year with the Fish, putting up a career-worst .614 OPS (on the back of a .235/.266/.348 slash) over 201 plate appearances. Limited mostly to the corner outfield, that left Johnson as a well-below-replacement-level player.

It looks to be an uphill climb for Johnson this year, as Miami features a trio of talented young options in the outfield and already inked Ichiro Suzuki for the fourth outfielder role. But Johnson will certainly provide a nice veteran presence and depth in camp, if nothing more, and was an average or better hitter as recently as 2011-12.


Latest On Indians’ Search For Reliever, Right-Handed Bat

FEB. 3, 7:35pm: Team president Mark Shapiro views the notion of adding a right-handed bat as “kind of wishful thinking,” as he tells FanSided blog Wahoo’s on First (Twitter link).

9:15am: Ryan Ludwick, Reed Johnson and Andruw Jones (who was said to be interested in a comeback this weekend) are all options for Cleveland, Heyman tweets. It’s certainly a surprise — to yours truly, at least — to see Cleveland linked to more outfield bats, given the glut of options the team already possesses.

However, Raburn is guaranteed just $2.6MM after hitting .195/.263/.333 against lefties last season, so perhaps Cleveland is comfortable looking for an upgrade due to his modest financial commitment. The team could conceivably move him or Murphy, who recently was candid in saying that while he’s willing to accept reduced playing time, he’d be open to a trade rather than a scenario where he receives 150 or so at-bats over the life of the season.

FEB. 2: It’s been a largely quiet offseason in Cleveland, but the Indians are still on the lookout for a right-handed bat and some relief help, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

The easiest spot to envision a right-handed bat entering the mix for playing time in Cleveland would be on the left side of the infield, where Lonnie Chisenhall has long had platoon issues (though he improved against lefties in a small 2014 sample). To a lesser extent, there could be a need at shortstop, given Jose Ramirez‘s inexperience, but the Indians likely feel comfortable with him and the eventual arrival of top prospect Francisco Lindor. Cleveland has little need for additional outfielders, given the presence of Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn, Brandon Moss, Nick Swisher, David Murphy and Ryan Raburn. They may, in fact, be better off seeking to trade one of the outfielders already on the roster.

The free agent market offers little in the way of a bat that could help in the infield. Rickie Weeks could be an option at third base (certainly not at short, however) if he is amenable to shifting across the diamond. Aside from Weeks, names like Donnie Murphy, Jayson Nix and Jonathan Herrera offer little upside with the bat but could be moved around the infield while regulars rest or deal with injuries.

Cleveland could also turn an eye toward the trade market. Some speculative names that come to mind include Matt Dominguez (now that Houston has traded for Luis Valbuena), Logan Forsythe or perhaps Eduardo Nunez, though none are particularly exciting names. Going further out on a limb, Cleveland could gauge Atlanta’s interest in a swap of bad contracts sending Swisher (and cash) for Chris Johnson. Replacing Swisher’s contract with that of Johnson would spread out the negative value over a three-year term as opposed to Swisher’s remaining two-year commitment, thereby creating some much-needed 2016 flexibility (a need I examined months ago in Cleveland’s Offseason Outlook). Johnson also crushes left-handed pitching and could therefore form a powerful, albeit defensively challenged platoon at third base with Chisenhall.

As for relievers, there are a number of names remaining on the market. I took a look at the remaining names with above-average velocity this morning, although Cleveland likely doesn’t have interest in reunions with Chris Perez or John Axford. Still, there are some experienced late-inning arms coming off mostly solid seasons, including Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano. Should Cleveland want to gamble a bit, it could by low on a formerly successful late-inning reliever such as Matt Lindstrom, David Aardsma, Brian Wilson or Matt Albers. Trades could also be explored on this front as well; one recent name added to the relief trade market was Edward Mujica.


Marlins Designate Brady, Bogusevic For Assignment

The Marlins have announced on Twitter they have designated right-hander Michael Brady and outfielder Brian Bogusevic for assignment. The team also announced they have purchased the contracts of outfielder Reed Johnson and right-hander Kevin Slowey.

Bogusevic, who is not yet arbitration eligible, was acquired from the Cubs last December for Justin Ruggiano. The 30-year-old slashed .273/.323/.462 in 155 plate appearances last year, but has a career line of .236/.313/.370 in 773 plate appearances. 

Brady, a 24th-round selection of the Marlins in the 2009 amateur draft, spent last season at Double-A Jacksonville making 49 trips out of the bullpen good for a 1.53 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 1.5 BB/9 in 53 innings.

Johnson and Slowey both signed minor league deals with the Marlins in January. With the Braves, Johnson struggled to a .244/.311/.341 line in just 136 plate appearances, leading the club to decline his $1.6MM option and instead pay him a $150K buyout. He was much better over the previous two seasons, however, combining to log 554 plate appearances while slashing .299/.342/.431. Slowey threw 92 1/3 innings for the Miami in 2013 and posted a 4.11 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and a 28.7% ground-ball rate in 20 games (including 14 starts). 



Added To The 40-Man Roster: Monday

Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:

  • Nyjer Morgan will make the Opening Day roster for the Indians and will therefore need to be added to the club's 40-man, according to a report on Twitter from MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. With Michael Bourn set to open the year on the DL, Morgan figures to play center until Bourn returns, though that may only be for a few games and it is not clear whether he'll have a roster spot beyond that point.
  • The Marlins are expected to add outfielder Reed Johnson to their 40-man and Opening Day rosters, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. As an Article XX(B) free agent, Johnson would have been subject to tomorrow's roster decision deadline, though Cotillo notes that Johnson's deal actually gives him a March 24th opt out that strengthens his collectively bargained protections.

Marlins Sign Reed Johnson

The Marlins have signed outfielder Reed Johnson to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, the club announced. The 37-year-old, right-handed swinging Johnson has played in 11 big league seasons.

Last year, with the Braves, Johnson struggled to a .244/.311/.341 line in just 136 plate appearances, leading the club to decline his $1.6MM option and instead pay him a $150K buyout. He was much better over the previous two seasons, however, combining to log 554 plate appearances while slashing .299/.342/.431. 

The Marlins, of course, have plenty of interesting young outfielders, the oldest and most-established of whom — Giancarlo Stanton — is only 24. Before today's signing, the grizzled veteran of the outfield corps was Brian Bogusevic, who is 29 and has yet to qualify for arbitration. While the club figures to give plenty of playing time to its younger group, Johnson should bring veteran presence, depth, and some healthy spring competition.


Braves Decline Reed Johnson’s Option

The Braves announced, via press release, that they have declined their $1.6MM club option for outfielder Reed Johnson. Johnson will instead receive a $150K buyout and become a free agent.

Johnson, 37 in December, batted .244/.311/.341 in 136 plate appearances for the Braves in 2013. Though he didn't do much at the plate the versatile outfielder provided solid defense at all three outfield positions. He also posted respectable numbers against left-handed pitchers, slashing .291/.328/.345 — a trait he's shown throughout his entire career. Johnson's career .311/.366/.456 batting line against southpaws dwarfs his line against same-handed pitching.

Johnson's ability to play anywhere in the outfield and ability to hit left-handed pitching at a decent clip will likely allow him to latch on as a fourth outfielder/bench bat somewhere this offseason.


NL East Notes: Phillies, McDowell, Johnson, Marlins

Don't count the Phillies out in 2014, cautions Dan Szymborski of ESPN in an Insider-only piece. Szymborski points out the similarities between the Phillies and Red Sox at the end of the 2012 season, noting that the Red Sox elected to pursue an intricate rebuild while the Phillies stood pat. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. can restore his team's status as a contender if he's bold this offseason, writes Szymborski, adding that with Roy Halladay off the books, the team has the wherewithal to do just that. Szymborski lists Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann as impact additions Amaro could make and also wonders if the team could pry David Price away from the Rays with a package fronted by Jesse Biddle and Maikel Franco. Here's more out of the NL East…

  • Roger McDowell's name has come up frequently in the Phillies' search for a pitching coach, but Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that McDowell will remain with the Braves as their pitching coach (Twitter link).
  • As part of their pitch to keep McDowell, the Braves erased his one-year contract and awarded him a two-year deal, according to Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter).
  • While there's yet to be a formal announcement, O'Brien tweeted yesterday that he expects the Braves to exercise their $1.6MM club option on Reed Johnson. Johnson's contract comes with a $150K buyout, essentially making it a $1.45MM decision for Atlanta GM Frank Wren.
  • In his primer for the upcoming offseason, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes that the Marlins will look to upgrade at catcher and third base, with an eye on getting more power into the lineup. The team's payroll isn't expected to be drastically different from last year's $38MM now that they failed to land big fish Jose Dariel Abreu, but the team will have some flexibility to pursue bargain free agents. Frisaro expects the Marlins to address catcher via trade, as they're no longer sure that Rob Brantly is their future at the position. At third base, he thinks that a one-year stopgap is likely, with 2013 first-rounder Colin Moran expected to be ready for the position in 2015. Some candidates for such a deal (and this is my own speculation) would include Wilson Betemit, Casey McGehee (who had a big season in Japan), Mark Reynolds and Kevin Youkilis.

Giants Notes: Wilson, Swisher, Outfielders

Here's the latest on the World Series champions, courtesy of The San Francisco Chronicle's Hank Schulman…

  • The Giants aren't close (Twitter link) to a deal to bring back former closer Brian Wilson.  The club assumes that Wilson will only consider a return once he's closely looked at his other choices.  Schulman reported earlier this month that Wilson had some hard feelings towards the Giants for non-tendering him and was looking to pitch elsewhere, preferably for the Red Sox or one of the Los Angeles teams.
  • Nick Swisher doesn't appear to be a target (Twitter link) for the Giants.
  • Cody Ross, Scott Hairston and Reed Johnson were all considered by the Giants as right-handed hitting outfield options, but the three players "either were not willing to take a part-timer's salary or not what the Giants wanted defensively."  San Francisco instead reached agreement with Andres Torres to a one-year, $2MM contract earlier today.
  • Giants president Larry Baer said his club feels no pressure to make any big moves to counter the Dodgers.  "Our strategy is just different, developing guys and bringing them through the system and sprinkling in free agents and trades when it makes sense," Baer said. "We've done free agents before, but we're trying to do more of a homegrown thing…You can't let what any other team does alter your strategy. That would be a mistake.  If we're going to look at the Dodgers spending all this money and say we're going to be free-agent-centric, we don't think that would be smart."
  • In news from earlier today, the Giants are believed to have offered Ichiro Suzuki a two-year, $15MM contract, but Ichiro is on his way to taking a slightly smaller contract to re-sign with the Yankees.

Braves To Sign Reed Johnson

FRIDAY: Johnson obtains a $1.75MM guarantee plus $150K in incentives, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports (on Twitter).  The deal also includes a club option for 2014 with a $1.6MM salary and a $150K buyout.  Johnson will earn a base salary of $1.6MM in 2013.

THURSDAY: The Braves agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Reed Johnson, tweets MLB.com's Carrie Muskat.  Johnson is represented by Wasserman Media Group.

Johnson, 36 on Saturday, hit .290/.337/.398 in 288 plate appearances for the Cubs and Braves this year.  He joined the Braves in the July Paul Maholm trade.  A right-handed hitter, Johnson has a .306/.339/.457 line against southpaws over the past three seasons.


NL East Notes: Santana, Braves, Reed Johnson

Here are a few Wednesday morning NL East updates out of Nashville:

  • The Mets would be open to eating a portion of the money remaining on Johan Santana's deal in a trade, but so far the team hasn't received any inquiries, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
  • The Braves are seeking a pair of bench players, one right-handed hitter and one lefty, says David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Reed Johnson appears to be the team's top target as a righty bat, though he's still exploring his options, according to GM Frank Wren: "We’ve expressed an interest in bringing him back. He’s expressed an interest in coming back. But we’re just not there yet."
  • Atlanta also continues to explore trades for impact bats, according to O'Brien, who says the Braves are believed to have inquired on Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Dexter Fowler, and Shin-Soo Choo, among others.
  • Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com looks into the remaining items on the Nationals' offseason to-do list.