Reed Johnson Rumors

Injury Notes: Rendon, Johnson, Walden, Albers, Lucroy

Anthony Rendon‘s return to the Nationals appears to be on hold, as the infielder has suffered a strained oblique muscle during his rehab assignment, manager Matt Williams told reporters, including James Wagner of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Rendon was on the mend from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee but had his rehab assignment shut down after the oblique issue popped up. The severity of the issue and timeline of his return are unknown at this point, per Williams, but the plan for now is for Rendon to rest more.

More injury news pertaining to the Nats and from around the league…

  • Nationals outfielder Reed Johnson underwent surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his foot over the weekend, Wagner wrote earlier in the week. Wagner writes that the 38-year-old Johnson is expected to be able to rejoin the club later this summer. Williams didn’t sound sure, however, as MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko tweeted yesterday. Asked whether Johnson would be able to return to the Nats this season, Williams simply replied, “I don’t know.”
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak expressed some concern over the shoulder and biceps of setup man Jordan Walden, who is currently on the disabled list, writes MLB.com’s Jen Langosch. Walden is getting a second opinion of the MRIs taken on his arm, but surgery has not been ruled out as a possibility. Mozeliak said at this time, Walden is leaning toward pitching through the injury.
  • The White Sox will be without right-hander Matt Albers longer than expected, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Albers injured a finger on his right hand in the Sox’ benches-clearing brawl with the Royals earlier this season, and the digit ultimately wound up requiring surgery which will keep him on the shelf for six to eight weeks.
  • After a slew of bad news in this post, we’ll touch on some good news for the Brewers; Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that the early signs on Jonathan Lucroy‘s broken toe are positive, and he currently hopes that he can return on the low end of his projected four- to six-week timeline for recovery.

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.

Nationals Sign Reed Johnson To Minor League Deal

9:23pm: Johnson will earn $1MM if he makes the roster, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson tweets.

3:36pm: Though outfielder Reed Johnson was released by the Marlins earlier this morning, his brush with unemployment will apparently be fleeting, as the Nationals announced that they’ve signed him to a Minor League contract. Johnson, 38, will report to big league camp and be in the mix for a bench spot.

The Nationals could use some additional outfield depth with Denard Span likely out through mid-May and Jayson Werth unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. As I noted this morning in discussing Johnson’s release, while his overall work with the bat is light, he’s still a solid option against left-handed pitching. Johnson batted .303/.319/.409 in 69 PA against lefties last year and is a lifetime .310/.363/.454 hitter when facing opposite-handed pitching. He has experience in center field but is likely best suited for left field at this stage of his career.

It remains unclear exactly how the Nationals’ outfield situation will play out, but prospect Michael Taylor figures to slide into Span’s spot and receive the bulk of the playing time in center field.



NL East Notes: Phillies, Mets, Gilmartin, Johnson, Janssen

The Phillies may be preparing to add their fifth starter from outside the organization, according to a tweet from Jayson Stark of ESPN. Stark spoke with an executive who asked the Phillies who their fifth starter was expected to be and received a reply of, “He’s not here yet.” A number of rotation options have been released over the past few days, including Jhoulys Chacin, Scott Baker and Felix Doubront. More releases figure to come soon, and other rotation options will be placed on waivers as we get late into camp. I’d be surprised if the Phillies made any form of significant move, but adding someone with a bit of upside, such as Chacin, could prove beneficial if they can get him back on track. The Phillies will go with Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, David Buchanan and Jerome Williams in their first four rotation spots.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • The Mets are confident that they can land a left-handed reliever before Opening Day, but even if they do bring in someone from the outside, Rule 5 lefty Sean Gilmartin has a good chance of making the club, per ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Gilmartin, 25 in May, was the Braves’ first-round pick in 2011 but was traded to the Twins for Ryan Doumit last offseason. Gilmartin posted a combined 3.71 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 145 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Twins last season, but they made the at least somewhat curious decision to leave him unprotected in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. With the Mets this spring, Gilmartin has allowed five runs in 8 2/3 innings with an 11-to-5 K/BB ratio. Last year in the Minors, Gilmartin held lefties to a miserable .201/.219/.235 batting line.
  • Marlins manager Mike Redmond tells Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post that he “lost a few nights of sleep” over the decision to cut Reed Johnson, who was released earlier this morning. Redmond spoke highly of Johnson’s influence on the team’s young hitters last season and voiced an opinion that while he expects Johnson to get picked up by another club, he also can see him transitioning to a coaching or even managerial role in the future. Redmond called the 38-year-old Johnson “a guy who has truly earned everything he’s been given in this game.” D’Angelo notes that Jordany Valdespin, Don Kelly, Donovan Solano and Reid Brignac are competing for the final two bench spots in Miami. The Marlins are prioritizing taking someone who can play shortstop for one of the two spots.
  • Tom Schad of the Washington Times spoke to Nationals right-hander Casey Janssen and was told that the setup man isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Janssen underwent an MRI on his right shoulder yesterday and while the results haven’t been released yet, Janssen said he doesn’t believe the test indicated a significant injury.

Marlins Release Reed Johnson

The Marlins have granted Reed Johnson his unconditional release from a Minor League contract, tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

The 38-year-old Johnson was in camp as a non-roster invitee after spending the 2014 season with Miami as a backup outfielder. Last season, he batted .235/.366/.348 in 201 trips to the plate for the Marlins. Miami signed Ichiro Suzuki as their fourth outfielder behind Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, leaving Johnson to compete for the team’s fifth bench spot. The veteran Johnson batted .205/.225/.231 in 40 plate appearances this spring.

Though his bat has deteriorated with age, Johnson is a career .310/.363/.454 hitter against left-handed pitching and batted .303/.319/.409 in 69 PA against lefties last year. He can now seek an opportunity to latch on with another club.


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.