The Braves announced that they’ve acquired second baseman Micah Johnson from the Dodgers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Johnson was designated for assignment earlier this week to clear a spot on the roster for Kenley Jansen when his deal was formally announced.
In Johnson, the Braves are adding a left-handed-hitting utility option with plenty of control and perhaps some upside, too. He has been on the prospect radar for some time, though he hasn’t performed well in limited major league action.
The Dodgers acquired Johnson as part of the three-team Todd Frazier deal. At the time, he was coming off of a year in which he started out as Chicago’s second baseman, and put up excellent numbers at the Triple-A level following a demotion. But Johnson struggled at the highest level of the minors in 2016, slashing just .261/.321/.356, and saw only scant action with Los Angeles.
Speed and plate discipline have long been Johnson’s calling cards, but there are some worrying developments in both regards of late. He no longer tries to steal quite as much as he did in his breakout 2013 season, and was cut down on 11 of 37 attempts last year. Also, he surged to a 20.4% strikeout rate at Triple-A in 2016, far more than had been his custom.
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It doesn’t help that Johnson isn’t regarded as a top-quality fielder and doesn’t have much pop. Still, it’s easy to see why the Braves were willing to take a shot on his talent. That’s not to say that Johnson is likely to make a serious challenge for MLB time right off the bat, as Atlanta already employs a similarly functioning player in Jace Peterson — another 26-year-old, left-handed hitter who spends most of his time at second base.