The Braves are among the organizations considering a move for free-agent infielder/outfielder Kelly Johnson, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). At this stage, though, Johnson is holding out for a MLB roster spot, per the report.
Presumably, Atlanta isn’t currently willing to clear 40-man space and guarantee cash to Johnson, who turns 35 tomorrow. Whether any organization ultimately will do so remains to be seen. On the one hand, an injury could suddenly make Johnson seem quite appealing; on the other, clubs may be less inclined to promise a MLB job as camp goes on.
In the Braves’ case, the presence of Jace Peterson — another left-handed-hitting infielder who could see time at second and third — complicates matters. While both could theoretically coexist on the same roster, it’s perhaps more likely that they’d end up battling for a single job.
Though Johnson’s latest stint in Atlanta wasn’t terribly productive — he hit just .215/.273/.289 in his 132 plate appearances there last year — there’s little question that the Braves front office is favorably disposed towards Johnson. After all, the club has signed and then traded him in each of the past two seasons.
Johnson did rebound last year upon moving to the Mets (a now-familiar intra-division transition). And he has been fairly consistent in recent years, providing solid pop while representing a less-than-inspiring on-base threat. Since becoming a purely part-time player in 2013, Johnson has posted a .241/.306/.402 batting line with 47 home runs over 1,372 plate appearances. He has also shown the ability to handle just about any defensive assignment that’s thrown at him, though he has only been asked to play shortstop in a pinch.
While there are obvious limitations to Johnson’s game, he seemingly represents a solid potential bench piece for many clubs. For instance, the Royals could seemingly stand to plug in a lefty-hitting second base option (more on that here), and it’s also possible to imagine matches with the division-rival White Sox, Tigers, and Twins — among other organizations that make some degree of sense on paper.