Rob Johnson Rumors

Minor Moves: Robinson, Knapp, Egan, Morillo, Garrison, Wrigley, Geer, Johnson

Here are some of today's notable minor moves — a rather interesting group on the whole — all courtesy of Baseball America's Matt Eddy unless otherwise noted:

  • Catcher Chris Robinson will retire, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 29-year-old, who was a 3rd round pick of the Tigers back in 2005, had a chance to see his first MLB action (and hit his first home run) last year with the Padres. At Triple-A with the Pads and Orioles, Robinson put up a .282/.307/.320 line in 255 plate appearances.
  • The Rangers have signed righty Jason Knapp to a minor league deal, tweets Eddy. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained, Knapp is attempting a comeback after washing out of baseball following successive shoulder surgeries. The big hurler was once a top prospect, and headlined the deal that sent Cliff Lee from the Indians to the Phillies. Though he hasn't thrown a professional pitch since 2010, Knapp is just 23 years old and reportedly has managed to build his heater back up into the 90s.
  • Reliever Pat Egan has signed with the Reds, Eddy tweets. Though he has yet to crack the bigs at age 29, the towering righty has found success in recent seasons at the upper reaches of the minors. In 2013 with the Braves organization, Egan notched a 2.95 ERA in 73 1/3 innings (though he was better at Double-A than Triple-A). And in 2012, he was good for 67 innings of 1.61 ERA ball for the Orioles' top affiliates.
  • Reliever Juan Morillo has signed a minor league deal with the Orioles, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun recently reported. The 30-year-old fireballer struggled in four MLB cups of coffee, and washed out of American professional baseball after 2012 as his walk totals reached unsustainable levels. According to Encina, Morillo served as the closer for the Taiwanese EDA Rhinos, during which time his heater registered at a league-record 99.4 mph.
  • The Orioles have also signed lefty Steve Garrison and first baseman Henry Wrigley to minor league deals, tweets Eddy. Garrison, 27, has thrown in just one big league game, and worked 43 2/3 innings of 3.30 ball for the Diamondbacks' Double-A affiliate last year, his first as a reliever. In the process, he boasted significantly higher strikeout totals (10.1 K/9) than he carried as a starter. Wrigley, also 27, spent his entire career in the minors with the Rays before moving to the Rockies in 2013. Previously a solid (if strikeout-prone) hitter with 20-home run power, Wrigley struggled to a .188/.227/.348 line in 119 Double-A plate appearances last year.
  • Righty Josh Geer has re-signed with the Padres, Eddy tweets. Geer battled back from Stage III melanoma before the 2012 season. Now 30, the RIce University product saw time in the bigs over 2008-09 but has thrown in the upper minors since. Working mostly as a reliever for the first time last year, he threw 104 1/3 innings of 3.54 ERA baseball with 6.9 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9.
  • Longtime catcher Rob Johnson will attempt to move onto the mound with the Padres organization, Eddie notes in the same tweet. The 31-year-old saw MLB action behind the dish in every season between 2007-13, carrying a lifetime .200/.275/.295 line in the process. Though a surprising number of converted catchers have found success as pitchers, far fewer can say they appeared at both positions at the big league level.
  • One example that Johnson can hope to emulate is Chris Hatcher, who has seen MLB time as a catcher and pitcher. Hatcher was recently designated by the Marlins and remains in DFA limbo. As MLBTR's DFA Tracker shows, two others join Hatcher in waiting to learn their fates: Henry Rodriguez (Reds) and Jimmy Paredes (Marlins).

Minor Moves: Perez, LaRoche, Nickeas, Cardinals

Here are today's outright assignments and minor moves from around the league…

  • The Blue Jays announced that they outrighted left-hander Juan Perez off the 40-man roster and re-signed him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The 35-year-old southpaw posted a 3.69 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 31 2/3 innings for Toronto this season and held lefties to a .200/.280/.333 batting line.
  • The Blue Jays also announced that they've re-signed catcher Mike Nickeas and and infielder Andy LaRoche to minor league deals with invites to Spring Training. Nickeas, 30, posted just a .507 OPS at Triple-A this season while LaRoche, the younger brother of Adam LaRoche, slashed .271/.339/.433 in 104 games at the same level.
  • The Cardinals announced that they have outrighted catcher Rob Johnson, outfielder Brock Peterson and outfielder Adron Chambers off their 40-man roster. Each has elected free agency, per the MLB.com Transactions page. Johnson spent most of the season in Triple-A, but found his way onto a big league roster for the seventh straight season. In 829 Major League plate appearances he's a .200/.275/.295 hitter. Peterson, 29, made his Major League debut after 11 seasons between the minors and indepedent ball. He collected just two hits in 26 at-bats but dominated Triple-A, hitting .296/.364/.531 with 25 homers in 508 PAs. The 27-year-old Chambers hit .252/.338/.387 with eight homers and 16 steals in the minors, adding 29 big league plate appearances and making the Cards' postseason roster as well.

Cardinals Release Kyle McClellan, Sign Rob Johnson

The Cardinals have released Kyle McClellan and signed Rob Johnson to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, reports Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post Dispatch.

McClellan, 28, allowed 11 runs in 18 2/3 relief innings this season while missing considerable time with elbow and shoulder injuries. He had surgery in July. McClellan pitched to a 4.19 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 17 starts and 26 relief appearances for the Cardinals last year. Matt Swartz projected the right-hander to earn $2.4MM during this third trip through arbitration this winter.

Johnson, 30, hit .250/.298/.288 in 58 plate appearances with the Mets last year. He spent most of the season in Triple-A, where he put up a .207/.253/.335 batting line with four homers in 178 plate appearances. The catcher is a career .201/.277/.297 hitter at the big league level, with most of his playing time coming with the Mariners.



Carroll, Paulino, Eveland, Thomas Hit Free Agency

We'll track the day's minor moves here…

  • Outfielder Brett Carroll and catcher Carlos Maldonado also elected free agency, Matt Eddy reports (on Twitter). Carroll appeared in five games for the Nationals this past season and Maldonado appeared in four.
  • Catcher Rob Johnson is a free agent after being removed from the Mets' 40-man roster, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. Johnson, 30, appeared in 17 games for the Mets this year plus 45 contests for their Triple-A affiliate. 
  • Orioles catcher Ronny Paulino and left-hander Dana Eveland also elected free agency, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (Twitter links). Eveland appeared in 14 games for the Orioles, posting a 4.73 ERA, and Paulino appeared in 20 games.
  • Yankees left-hander Justin Thomas also elected free agency, according to Eddy. The Yankees outrighted Thomas to Triple-A earlier in the month.
  • Blue Jays reliever Juan Abreu has also elected free agency, Eddy reports. Abreu posted a 6.80 ERA in 42 minor league relief outings this past season.
  • The Brewers announced that Livan Hernandez and Yorvit Torrealba elected free agency after refusing outright assignments to Triple-A. The moves are procedural, as Hernandez and Torrealba were expected to hit free agency.

Mets Sign Rob Johnson

The Mets have signed catcher Rob Johnson to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, the team announced. 

Johnson, 28, hit .190/.259/.285 in 199 plate appearances for the Padres last year and owns a .197/.275/.297 career line in parts of five big league seasons. He's thrown out 28% of attempted basestealers and is a .272/.328/.385 career hitter in nearly 1,400 Triple-A plate appearances. Johnson gives the Mets some veteran depth behind Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas.


Minor Moves: Johnson, Maysonet

Here are today's minor moves…

  • Padres catcher Rob Johnson has cleared outright waivers and elected free agency, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock (on Twitter). Johnson, 28, posted a .190/.259/.285 line in 199 plate appearances as San Diego's backup catcher in 2011, preventing 23% of stolen base attempts. 
  • The Brewers announced that they re-signed infielder Edwin Maysonet to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training. The 30-year-old posted a .290/.347/.386 line for the Brewers' Triple-A affiliate in 2011 and hasn't played in the Major Leagues since 2009.

Padres’, Pirates’ Notable Non-Roster Invitees

The Padres and Pirates have announced their Spring Training non-roster invitees, write MLB.com's Corey Brock and Jenifer Langosch, respectively.

Among San Diego's 20 NRIs is a small handful of players with big-league experience and a decent chance of making the 25-man roster at the end of Spring Training. Here's a quick look at some of those guys:

  • Kevin Frandsen has spent parts of five seasons with the Giants and Angels, and he has a "good shot" of catching on with the Padres as a utility man, according to Brock. The 28-year-old plays multiple positions and would earn a salary of $575,000.
  • Guillermo Quiroz could challenge Rob Johnson for the backup catching job, notes Brock. Quiroz, 29, has played for four teams (Rangers, Blue Jays, Mariners and Orioles) in parts of seven seasons.
  • Gregorio Petit spent parts of two seasons with the A's as a utility infielder in 2008-09. The 26-year-old spent the entirety of 2010 with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate.
  • Bullpen hopefuls Luis Perdomo and Scott Munter each have Major League experience. Perdomo made 35 appearances with San Diego in 2009 but only one last season, and Munter was with the Giants for parts of three seasons.

The Pirates, meanwhile, have a slightly more interesting cast of notable names:

  • Garrett Atkins, Jeff Clement, Josh Fields and Andy Marte form a quartet of one-time blue-chip prospects. Atkins, in particular, was an above-average player for the Rockies in 2006-07, but he declined quickly in the following years. Clement, a former catcher, was a No. 3 overall pick of the Mariners in 2005, and Fields and Marte were raw-power corner-infield prospects coming up with the White Sox and Braves/Indians, respectively.
  • On the pitching side, Tyler Yates has a 8.1 K/9 for his career but did not pitch in the bigs in 2010. Donald Veal, selected by the Bucs from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft prior to the 2009 season, is a hard-throwing but wild lefty. Brian Burres has started 54 games in his five-year career with the Orioles, Blue Jays and Pirates. Sean Gallagher was dealt from the Cubs to the A's in the deal that sent Rich Harden to Chicago, and has appeared in 91 games. Fernando Nieve has appeared in 99 games (19 starts) with the Astros and Mets in parts of four seasons.

Padres Acquire Rob Johnson

The Padres acquired catcher Rob Johnson from the Mariners for a player to be named later or cash considerations, according to the team.  Johnson had been designated for assignment on December 13th to create a spot for Jack Cust.  He'll serve as Nick Hundley's backup in San Diego, presumably.  The Padres now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.

Johnson, 27, has a .200/.282/.302 line in parts of four seasons with the Mariners.  Last offseason, he underwent labrum surgery on both hips and had left wrist surgery. Johnson appeared in 61 games in 2010, batting .191/.293/.281 in 209 plate appearances. He threw out 35% of would-be base stealers, a career high (he has a 30% career mark).  In their 2009 Handbook, Baseball America called Johnson the best defensive catcher in the Mariners' farm system.

Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.


Mariners Designate Rob Johnson For Assignment

The Mariners designated catcher Rob Johnson for assignment to create roster space for new DH Jack Cust, the team announced. The Mariners now have ten days to trade Johnson, release him or outright him to the minors. Adam Moore and Miguel Olivo figure to be the team's primary catchers in 2011, though Johnson could remain in the organization as insurance.

Johnson, 27, has a .200/.282/.302 line in parts of four seasons with the Mariners.  Last offseason, he underwent labrum surgery on both hips and had left wrist surgery. Johnson appeared in 61 games in 2010, batting .191/.293/.281 in 209 plate appearances. He threw out 35% of would-be base stealers, a career high (he has a 30% career mark).


Mariners Targeting Gregg Zaun

Gregg Zaun was offered arbitration by Tampa Bay today, but the free agent catcher has at least one serious suitor in the Seattle Mariners.  Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports report that the M's are looking to sign Zaun as a veteran platoon mate for prospect Adam MooreRob Johnson, the only other catcher on the Seattle 40-man roster since Kenji Johjima's opt-out, is coming off of surgeries to both hips and may not be ready for Spring Training.

Both Moore and Johnson are right-handed batters, so the switch-hitting Zaun would provide Seattle with a lefty bat for a platoon situation; Zaun had an .801 OPS against right-handed pitching last season.  Should Zaun and Moore end up in a platoon, Zaun would find himself sharing time with a highly-regarded prospect for the second consecutive year.  He began 2009 in Baltimore in a platoon with Matt Wieters.

Earlier today, we learned that Zaun expects to sign by the end of the week.