4:38pm: The Braves sent about $450K to the Mets in the trade as well, tweets the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff. That will help offset the remaining $1.268MM on Johnson’s 2016 contract. The Braves, then, are saving about $818K in the trade.
10:56am: The Mets have officially struck a deal to acquire utilityman Kelly Johnson from the Braves, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com first reported on Twitter. Minor league righty Akeel Morris heading back in return.
New York and Atlanta are division rivals, but that didn’t stop them from linking up last summer on a deal that brought Johnson and fellow veteran Juan Uribe to the Mets. Johnson returned to Atlanta after playing a limited but important role for the eventual National League champs, only to be sent north once again.
The contending Mets have seen some holes open up this year due to injuries. In particular, first baseman Lucas Duda, third baseman David Wright, and catcher Travis d’Arnaud are in various stages of lengthy absences, while outfielder Juan Lagares is limited by a thumb injury.
Johnson, 34, figures to provide a stopgap at any number of positions. Over 11 years with eight organizations, he’s lined up at second base, all four corner infield and outfield spots, and even shortstop (albeit only for one game). The left-handed-hitting Johnson looks like a particularly good fit at third base, where he could share time with Wilmer Flores, though it’s fair to note that Johnson has never carried much of a platoon split.
At his best, Johnson is a reasonably solid defender and an average or better hitter with some pop. The question is how much is left in the bat. Over 132 plate appearances this year, he’s slashed a meager .215/.273/.289 with a single home run. That’s a good ways off of his lifetime .250/.330/.420 slash and double-digit annual long ball output.
In Morris, the Braves are getting a 23-year-old reliever who has just a single MLB appearance under his belt. Heading into 2016, he had posted three straight seasons of sparkling results while steadily climbing the ladder. Over his first 25 1/3 innings this year, all coming at the Double-A level, Morris has surrendered 13 earned runs and issued 16 free passes — though he’s also allowed only 19 hits while racking up 36 strikeouts.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that a trade between the teams was close (Twitter link).