Reed Johnson Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Mets are talking R.A. Dickey trades, the Marlins' highest-paid player wants out and the team is shopping its second-highest, and the Phillies have moved on to other outfielders with Angel Pagan off the board. More from around the NL East...
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo does not "see a fit financially or term-wise" with free agent lefty Sean Burnett, he told reporters including Mark Zuckerman today, but he won't rule anything out as the team seeks a second lefty in the bullpen to pair with the newly re-signed Zach Duke.
- Braves GM Frank Wren spent part of the day talking to the agents of free agent bench candidates, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O'Brien says the team is believed to have an offer out to bring back outfielder Reed Johnson.
- Wren told reporters including MLB.com's Mark Bowman that while no player is untouchable, shortstop Andrelton Simmons is "unreachable." Pitching prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado aren't off-limits, but "if we’re going to trade one of those guys it’s going to be a significant deal," explained Wren.
- Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post has more from Nolasco's agent Matt Sosnick, who explained that his client would "be a completely happier player playing somewhere else."
Here are the latest hot stove items from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal....
- Teams in search of bullpen help have been looking at Royals right-handers Greg Holland and Aaron Crow, though Kansas City isn't likely to trade any of its Major League players unless they can move Jeff Francoeur.
- The Royals bolstered their pitching staff by re-signing Jeremy Guthrie and trading for Ervin Santana, but Rosenthal still feels the team needs a true ace.
- The Phillies are interested in free agent reliever Koji Uehara.
- The Diamondbacks could deal Jason Kubel instead of Justin Upton, which would be an easier move to make though Kubel would bring back a lesser return. A source tells Rosenthal that the Rangers are still interested in Upton but are waiting for the D'Backs to back down on their demands for Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar in return.
- Denard Span could be a good trade target for a club that doesn't want to pay for one of the expensive center fielders on the free market. With the Twins desperate for pitching, Rosenthal speculates that a team like the Braves (who need a center fielder and have pitching depth) could be a trade partner.
- The free agent catching market is stalled since the Red Sox and Blue Jays have catchers available for trade, plus the Yankees are waiting to address their pitching before making a decision on Russell Martin.
- Speaking of the Blue Jays' catching depth, Rosenthal thinks that Toronto is in no hurry to deal J.P. Arencibia, as a dependable catcher is needed if top prospect Travis D'Arnaud hasn't recovered from his season-ending knee injury.
- Reed Johnson is drawing interest from several teams, including the Braves, who acquired Johnson from the Cubs last July.
The Cubs have traded left-hander Paul Maholm, outfielder Reed Johnson and cash considerations to the Braves in a four-player trade that provides Atlanta with reinforcements for the season's final two months and bolsters Chicago's minor league system. The Cubs obtain right-handers Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino in the trade, which the teams have announced.
Maholm has a 3.74 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 49.9% ground ball rate in 120 1/3 innings for the Cubs this year. The 30-year-old has never thrown particularly hard; his average fastball checks in at 87.6 mph this year, according to FanGraphs. He earns a $4.75MM salary in 2012 and his contract includes a $6.5MM club option for 2013. The Royals and Pirates appeared to have interest in Maholm earlier this month.
Johnson, 35, has a .307/.361/.452 batting line in 180 plate appearances this year. The right-handed hitter has played all three outfield positions for the Cubs and owns a career .313/.370/.469 line against left-handed pitching. He's signed to a one-year, $1.15MM contract and will hit free agency after the season. Four teams made offers for Johnson today, including the Pirates and Tigers, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com.
Vizcaino, who entered the 2012 season ranked by Baseball America as the 40th-best prospect in MLB, had Tommy John surgery this spring. The 21-year-old posted a 3.06 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 97 innings for three Braves affiliates as he made his way through Atlanta's minor league system in 2011. The right-hander reached the Major Leagues last year, posting a 4.67 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 17 relief appearances.
Chapman, a 25-year-old right-hander, has a 3.52 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 53 2/3 innings of relief for Atlanta's Triple-A team so far in 2012. The Braves selected him in the 16th round of the 2005 draft.
Maholm joins a Braves rotation that includes Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor, Ben Sheets and, as of tomorrow, Kris Medlen. The Braves nearly traded for Ryan Dempster this month, but the sides don't appear to have obtained the right-hander's permission.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that Johnson had been traded (on Twitter). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported Maholm's role in the trade and first reported that the Braves were the other team involved (Twitter link). ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick first reported that the Cubs were getting two minor league pitchers, including Chapman. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Cubs were getting Vizcaino. Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
The Cubs removed Reed Johnson from today's game and it appears that the outfielder has been traded, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Four teams made offers for Johnson today, including the Pirates and Tigers, according to Levine.
Johnson, 35, has a .307/.361/.452 batting line in 180 plate appearances this year. The right-handed hitter has played all three outfield positions for the Cubs and owns a career .313/.370/.469 line against left-handed pitching. He's signed to a one-year, $1.15MM contract and will hit free agency after the season.
Cody Ross was a walkoff hero for the Red Sox tonight, slugging a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off White Sox closer Addison Reed to give Boston a 3-1 win in the Battle Of The Sox. Here are some links from around the majors as we wrap up a busy Thursday of trade rumors...
- The Nationals have decided on to shut down Stephen Strasburg at some point this season though it may not be at the 160-inning limit, GM Mike Rizzo tells ESPN's Pedro Gomez. "There is no magic number," Rizzo said. "It will be the eye test. (Manager) Davey (Johnson) won't decide and ownership won't decide. It will be the general manager, and that's me."
- The Rangers have "a very small list" of pitchers on their wish list and may be out of the pitching market entirely if Cole Hamels signs an extension with the Phillies, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- If Torii Hunter is really willing to take a big discount to re-sign with the Angels, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal speculates that the Halos could save money by keeping Hunter and Peter Bourjos at low costs and then non-tender or trade Kendrys Morales to free up more money to pursue pitching.
- The Cubs are unlikely to make a major free agent signing this winter, as Theo Epstein tells CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney that the team isn't far enough along in its rebuilding process. “Free agency’s definitely a nice way to add talent to an organization without giving up talent," Epstein said. "But you cannot make an organization that way. And we have a lot of steps ahead of us that we need to take care of before we’re in a position to add a finishing piece or two through free agency.”
- Beyond their big-name talent, the Cubs are also getting calls about right-handed hitting bench players Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson, reports Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link).
- The Twins led all teams in draft spending this year, as Baseball America's Jim Callis breaks down how much each club spent on their draft picks.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America recaps the week's minor league transactions.
- Dodgers president Stan Kasten hinted that his team isn't likely to splurge in a blockbuster trade deadline deal, saying any trade the Dodgers make will "have to be governed by reason" and "make sense long term," he tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told reporters (including MLB.com's Joe Frisaro) that his team is running out of time to prove they're contenders before the Fish could be forced to sell some pieces at the deadline. “In terms of decision making, I don’t how that’s going to go,” Beinfest said. “I really don’t. We need to win games here to make sure we’re on the periphery of even thinking about getting into things....You believe in your talent and hope we get hot. I think that’s where we are right now. But every day that goes by, it gets tougher and tougher to do that.”