Bruce Levine on ESPN1000 is reporting that the Cubs have come to terms with recently released Blue Jay Reed Johnson. Johnson was a 17th round pick of the Blue Jays in 1999, back when Tim Wilkin was running things over there and I'm sure the connection helped his cause with the Cubs. He's mostly played the corner outfield spots in his career, but has played 64 games in center in the majors. He had a great 2006, hitting 319/390/479, but has a career line of 281/342/410 with little ability to steal a base. He's also coming off a back injury that derailed his 2007 season. His scouting report on TSN.ca says:
Hustle is his strongest suit. He makes consistent contact and hits well
with runners in scoring position--especially against lefties.
Hustle? Mix that with a little grit and you've got yourself a ballpayer.
BP projected him at 262/324/387 this year which certainly isn't encouraging. On the other hand, he's hit 308/371/462 versus lefties over his career, and that'll likely be his primary role with the Cubs. It's a low-risk, high reward deal for the Cubs to fill out the need for a right-handed hitting center field option. If he stinks up the joint, he'll be easy to cut, and if he hits and plays "good enough" center field defense, it'll be a wise, low-cost move that didn't cost us any trade chips.