Reed Johnson Rumors

NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Keppinger, Johnson

Heading into today's action, no first place team in either league holds a lead of more than two and a half games, and no division is tighter at the top than the NL Central. Not only are the Cardinals, Brewers, and Pirates separated by a single game in the standings, but all three teams are dead even in the loss column. Here's the latest on the Central, as we look forward to what should be a fun playoff race:

  • The Cardinals' pursuit of pitching is "taking shape," tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, though he cautions in a second tweet that he's unsure of the timetable for a deal.
  • Discussing the Cardinals' need for arms, Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch says that while prioritizing relief help makes sense, the team could also try to acquire a starter and move Kyle McClellan to the bullpen.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wonders (via Twitter) if the Astros will receive more interest in Jeff Keppinger than Brett Myers, given Myers' struggles this season.
  • In a separate tweet, Morosi notes that Cubs' outfielder Reed Johnson is another useful complementary player who could be available on the cheap this month.

Cubs Sign Reed Johnson

The Cubs and outfielder Reed Johnson have agreed to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, according to a team press release.  This marks a return to Wrigley for Johnson, who spent the 2008 and '09 seasons with the Cubs before hooking on with the Dodgers last season. 

Johnson was less-than-impressive in Dodger blue, turning in a slash line of .262/.291/.366 in 215 plate appearances.  The 34-year-old has a career .748 OPS and a solid 4.6 UZR/150 in the outfield.  Johnson is represented by WMG.

Mets Notes: Reyes, Alderson, Reed Johnson

On the 26th anniversary of the trade that sent Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter from the Expos to the Mets, it's only appropriate that we look at some Mets-related news items….

  • Carl Crawford's deal "virtually guarantees" that Jose Reyes won't pursue an extension with the Mets before hitting the free agent market, writes Newsday's David Lennon.  Reyes would have to have a big 2011 season and stay healthy first, but even then, it's hard to see a team giving a Crawford-esque contract to a player with Reyes' injury history.
  • From the same piece, Lennon thinks it's unlikely that Sandy Alderson would sign a free agent to a six- or seven-year mega-deal akin to those signed by Crawford or Jayson Werth.  "Alderson just doesn’t believe in building a team that way, and really, what’s so wrong with that?", Lennon asks.
  • Speaking of Alderson, he took part in a conference call today with several Mets bloggers.  Matthew Cerrone of has the recap, with Michael Baron providing the transcription.
  • The Mets have some interest in Reed Johnson but "nothing is close" and Johnson is one of several options being considered, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (both Twitter links).

Rangers Continue Search For Right-Handed Bat

Teams have just two more days to acquire postseason-eligible players, but the Rangers haven't yet given up their search for a right-handed hitter. Richard Durrett of writes that, after missing out on Manny Ramirez, Jon Daniels and the Rangers continue to "work the phones" in hopes of landing a bat.

Our list of players that we know have cleared waivers is noticeably lacking in right-handed options, with switch-hitters Carlos Beltran and Geoff Blum the only healthy possibilities. Durrett, however, lists a few names he thinks may be available, including Ryan Spilborghs, Reed Johnson, Jeff Francoeur, and Marlon Byrd. It's also possible that the Rangers are the unknown team that won a waiver claim on Mike Napoli, though he would have had to make it past the Tigers and White Sox, among other clubs.

The Rangers were hoping Jorge Cantu would provide the right-handed pop they needed, but the 28-year-old has struggled since Texas acquired him a month ago. Cantu has yet to record a homer or RBI for the Rangers, hitting .226/.281/.283 in 58 plate appearances.

Rosenthal On Rangers, Ramirez, Finances

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports brings us another edition of Full Count.  Fans of Manny Ramirez will especially enjoy this.  Let's dive right in..

  • Despite their recent ownership issues, the Rangers seem to have no problem with spending big.  One of the reasons that they claimed Manny Ramirez on waivers was to prevent him from getting to two of their potential postseason foes, the Rays and the Yankees.  It's probably for the best that they didn't submit the winning claim as seeing Ramirez or Vladimir Guerrero in the outfield would have caused some problems.  Right now they should be fine offensively with Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler, two big right-handed bats, coming off of the DL soon.  However, they had been interested in obtaining a fourth outfielder such as Reed Johnson.
  • The Dodgers could let Ramirez go to the White Sox regardless of where they are in the standings.  Rosenthal notes that he has played in just three of six games since coming off of the disabled list.  In the last hour we learned that the twelve-time All-Star will not start in tonight's contest against the Rockies.
  • Based on this week's events it appears that Major League Baseball is doing better financially than we are led to believe.  Leaked financial reports showed that the Marlins and Pirates are taking in a decent amount of money and the small-market Rays took a $4MM gamble on claiming Manny Ramirez.  Rosenthal asked a GM how three teams could take that chance and the GM replied that no one really could take that risk but everyone wants to win.

Dodgers Sign Reed Johnson

The Dodgers officially signed outfielder Reed Johnson to a one-year, $800K deal today.  He can earn another $250K in incentives.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the near-agreement on Sunday, with Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times adding contract details.

Johnson, 33, hit .255/.330/.412 with the Cubs last season, seeing time at all three outfield positions, though primarily in center field. He was limited to just 65 games as a result of a fractured left foot.  The Cubs non-tendered him after the season rather than pay him a salary in the $3MM range.

We've heard recently that the Dodgers have been in touch with Garret Anderson, but the Johnson acquisition likely puts an end to that. Johnson makes more sense as a fourth outfielder, given his ability to play anywhere in the outfield, though UZR suggests that his only strong spot is in left.

Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.

Odds & Ends: Carroll, Wang, Hudson, Fielder

Sunday night linkage..

  • Despite their budget constraints, Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times expects the Rays to upgrade their roster.  Topkin mentions several quality free agents who may have to accept minor league deals such as Jim Edmonds, Rocco Baldelli, and ex-Ray Jonny Gomes as proof that the market is rife with valuable players.
  • At the Mariners Fan Fest event, pitcher Mark Lowe told the crowd in attendance that he keeps up on all of the latest transactions with MLBTradeRumors (video from, :40 mark).  Dave Sims – the television voice of the M's – followed that up with his own mention of MLBTR.  Thanks guys!
  • Tim brings us the terms of Jamey Carroll's contract with the Dodgers via Twitter.  Carroll will earn $1.35MM in 2010 and $2.5MM in 2011.  The 35-year-old could also earn up to $525K per year in plate appearance incentives.
  • The Dodgers are among the teams that have reviewed Chien-Ming Wang's medical records, according to a tweet from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.  Recently, ESPN's Jayson Stark pegged the Dodgers as a possible destination for the 29-year-old.
  • Washington GM Mike Rizzo and Orlando's Hudson's representative haven't talked in a couple of days, according to's William Ladson (via Twitter).  Furthermore, Rizzo says that if Hudson has brought his price down, it's news to him (also via Twitter).
  • In response to a fan asking how much he thinks Prince Fielder will sign for,'s Adam McCalvy writes that he doesn't think he will sign at all and will instead opt to hit the open market after the 2011 season (via Twitter).
  • Jon Weisman of the Los Angeles Times writes that the Dodgers' rumored signing of Reed Johnson likely means that Ronnie Belliard will get the nod over Blake DeWitt at second base.  Weisman's reasoning is that the roster, as it stands now, would feature an all right-handed bench without DeWitt's inclusion.  Weisman wonders if this overload of righty sluggers means that the Dodgers will pursue another free agent backup outfielder.

Cubs Sign Xavier Nady

The Cubs officially signed Xavier Nady to a one-year deal worth $3.3MM today. GM Jim Hendry was also considering Reed JohnsonJonny Gomes and Jermaine Dye, but he settled on Nady, who could earn an extra $2MM in incentives tied to games played. 

Nady is coming off his second Tommy John surgery, which is uncharted territory for an established everyday player. The 31-year-old appeared in just seven games in 2009, but he hit 25 homers the year before that, so you can see why the Cubs were intrigued.

Next up for Nady: proving he's healthy enough to deserve a big contract next winter. Next up for his agent, Scott Boras: find a home for Johnny Damon.

ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine first reported that the Cubs were close to adding an outfielder. Yahoo's Tim Brown reported that the deal was official and Jon Heyman of added the terms of the contract.

Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.

Rays Interested In Johnny Damon

The Rays have interest in Johnny Damon as a DH candidate, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman says the Rays are considering Damon even if they can't unload Pat Burrell.  Sherman's sources believe Damon would be willing to play for $7MM, partially deferred. 

We learned earlier today from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that agent Scott Boras is "trying to engage" the Reds and Tigers for Damon.  Crasnick notes that those clubs would have a hard time fitting Damon into the budget.  The Yankees are out, having reached an agreement with Randy Winn today.

Oakland's rumored interest in a Damon reunion was not directly addressed by GM Billy Beane, reports's Jane Lee.  Still, Beane said his priority is adding infield depth.

Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.

Damon, Yankees Have Been Talking

SATURDAY, 3:12pm: Yanks GM Brian Cashman denies that the club is waiting on Damon before looking into other outfield options, reports Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog.

Additionally, Cashman stressed that the team has "had no discussions on Jermaine Dye" and is "not on Jim Edmonds at all."

2:30pm: In a text to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger, Damon says that he "should have a team in a week" (via Twitter).

1:56pm: Heyman reports (via Twitter) that Damon has "days" to take a "low deal" from the Yankees.  Assuming he says no, the club will sign another outfielder from the group of Reed Johnson, Xavier Nady, Randy Winn, Jim Edmonds, and Jermaine Dye.

FRIDAY, 6:17pm:'s Jon Heyman was on MLB Network's Hot Stove show tonight, and said that the Yankees and Johnny Damon have spoken recently. Here's his exact quote:

"He did meet or talk to the Yankees in the last couple of days. Still doesn't look like a great chance of happening though believe it or not. They are talking, but the Yankees have these budgetary constraints. They've been telling other teams they have about 2 million dollars to spend. I think for Damon they would probably go over that. I mean this is a guy who's had 100 runs scored 9 times and 24 home runs.  Terrific player, but I would still say more likely Braves or Tigers, at this point."

Two days ago we heard from former Yankee Jerry Hairston Jr. that the team never made him an offer because they're "waiting on Damon's price to come down," however GM Brian Cashman shot that report down.

It's certainly getting late in the offseason, however just for a frame of reference, Bobby Abreu didn't sign with the Angels until February 12th of last season. Damon might have a little more waiting to do.