Cubs Potential Offseason Targets: Kelly Johnson
I'm in the midst of one of my hell projects at work, this one just happens to be a little more hellish and is gonna last until December. In order to keep the fun going around here, I thought I'd present some reasonable trade and free agent targets over the next weeks - some of the low-hanging fruit that will probably be more in line with Hendry's budget for 2010. I'm not really going to make a case one way or another, rather just try and open up the discussion. Today's guest is Atlanta Braves second basemen Kelly Johnson....
Braves GM Frank Wren came out today and said Martin Prado will pretty much go into 2010 as the their starting second basemen which leaves Kelly Johnson as prime trade bait. It doesn't mean the Braves have to move him, but he's certainly going to be available for the right price, which can't be a whole lot for a guy with a .692 OPS last year. He's also arbitration eligible and coming off a 2.85M payday in 2009, so it's very possible - let's go ahead and call it likely - that he'll just end up being non-tendered if he's not traded before December 12th.
A tough year for Johnson in 2009 and honestly in 2008 he didn't look to great either until he just went nuts in September with a 1.071 OPS to bring his season OPS to a respectable .795 for a second basemen. And he did battle through a knee injury for most of 2008 as well. Defensively, BP has his Rate2 numbers as above average at 108 for his career while UZR over at Fangraphs doesn't think highly of him at all. The Fan's Scouting Report compiled by TangoTiger seems to think of him as average to below average at second base.
On the upside, 2010 will be his age 28 season compared to it being Mike Fontenot's age 30 season and the Cubs could definitely use an infusion of talent under the age of 30. His minor league numbers cumulated to a .832 OPS, but he broke out in 2005 with an OPS of 1.018 in Triple A at age 23 and looked well on his way in 2006 before an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery prematurely ended his season. Actually, Johnson started out as
a left fielder(make that shortstop, then 3b, then left field) in the Braves system and that injury forced him to second
base, but enough time has passed that there's the very small possibility that he could fill a
utility role of some kind. If there's one thing that really makes me think it would be a good idea to go after Johnson, is that he had a BABIP of .249 last year, compared to his .313 career mark. He's either forgotten how to hit a baseball or last year was more about bad luck than anything else. He has a career walk rate of 10.9% which is on the high end and sees 3.94 pitches per plate appearance although both numbers have taken a hit over the last two seasons. Either he's losing his patient approach at the plate or pitchers have been more willing to go after him as his power numbers have dropped off.
There's no way the Cubs would pull off a trade for Johnson and just hand him a job, the only reasonable scenarios are make a trade or sign him after he's non-tendered and then let him compete with Jeff Baker...that is unless the Cubs end up signing Chone Figgins to play second base which I have my doubts will happen. Also any reasonable scenario of bringing Johnson in would mean the end of the Godenot era, but I personally have no problems with that as Johnson is younger, higher upside and has had major league success as a regular.
So how say you TCR readers, should the Cubs make a run at Johnson?
*UPDATE* I should note that Mike Fontenot does have one option year left and at 2 year and 139 service days (according to Arizona Phil) it appears he's going to miss Super Two status by two days
meaning the Cubs could bring him back on an auto-renew and send him to
the minors if there's no spot for him after spring training.
Photo courtesy of PicApp (AiWire Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom Content © 2009 Newscom All rights reserved.)
crunch 10 min 47 sec ago (view)
bartolo colon is pitching in mexico this season...a few hundred thousand should lock him up as our 2022 ace. the savings could be used to build the Chicago Cubs Draft Kings Luxury Betting Lounge and Make Your Own Taco Bar Emporium.
SheffieldCornelia 25 min 10 sec ago (view)
AZ Phil, I don't doubt that trading Hendricks to the Angels is a possibility, but even with Hendricks in the mix we're looking at a 2022 Cubs rotation needing at least two more starting pitchers to be added to the roster. Trading Hendricks then gets rid of the presumptive Opening Day starter and creates yet another hole.
If the Cubs deal Hendricks, any thoughts as to the plan to replace him?
Arizona Phil 18 hours 20 min ago (view)
You can pretty much figure out from my AZIL game reports who the Cubs will likely target if they trade Kyle Hendricks to the Angels during the off-season (which I believe is a distinct possibility).
crunch 21 hours 41 min ago (view)
"On Wednesday, and again on Friday, manager Joe Maddon said the Angels needed to land two front-line starters or risk perpetual mediocrity. On Saturday, Mike Trout said the Angels had “a lot of money to spend” and the offseason was “going to be big.”"
$180.3m payroll and the star player + manager softly demanding more talent.
wait. you can do that?
hey d.ross and...umm...hold up...do you have to have a star player to make this kind of demand? sigh.
tim815 1 day 19 hours ago (view)
Exactly. Teams realized that under-playing the rest of the season, and assessing what's currently on-hand, works. At least, better than pickung three or four spots lower on the draft board with less spending space.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
It required a good amount of luck, and the other hard part is like a third of the league are tanking now too. Last time it was basically us and Houston.
crunch 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
this team is very hard to watch. i can't take this for 1-2 more years. i hope the 2022 plan is at least hybrid-competitive (team built to compete, but trade-ready if failing mid-season).
rebuilding on total destruction for a slew of 1st round picks for years is/was lame even if those 1st round picks was pretty much all that worked for the cubs in the theo-era drafts.
K Dub 2 days 20 hours ago (view)
PHIL: Thanks for the update on Devers. Are you able to give us some more context (velocity, pitch mix, etc)? Also, was Drew Gray included in the group you compared Devers to when you said Devers was "by far" the ACL Cubs best pitching prospect? I ask because I know Gray only pitched 4 innings this season.
crunch 2 days 21 hours ago (view)
cards 15 wins a row...franchise record
Hagsag 3 days 8 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have no starting pitching right now with Carl in a funk.
Eric S 3 days 15 hours ago (view)
Cubs were Nootbaar'ed to the tune of 12-4 in Game 2
Cubster 3 days 16 hours ago (view)
With a Doubleheader loss, the Cubs are back on track for a better draft choice. Right now at 67 wins they pick #7, just ahead of KC and Minnesota who have 68-69 wins.
crunch 3 days 18 hours ago (view)
the shit sandwich that is zach davies is a 6 foot party sub.
Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 18 hours ago (view)
I am celebrating the day he signs with another team this offseason. I didn't know I could hate him more than I did when he was in Milwaukee but here we are!
crunch 3 days 18 hours ago (view)
wisdom can hit some bombs when he does connect..wow.
also davies still sucks.
tim815 3 days 19 hours ago (view)
McAvene is struggling against hitters in Instructs. He's not ready for the AZ Fall League. I'd expect to see Juan Gamez otr Aneuris Rosario first. Vazquez, I agree with, entirely.