Mariners designate catcher Rob Johnson for assignment

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Seattle has mercifully designated Rob Johnson for assignment after giving the 27-year-old catcher a total of 499 plate appearances during the past two seasons despite hitting a combined .204 with a .291 on-base percentage and .307 slugging percentage.

And unlike most catchers who get significant playing time despite not being able to hit, Johnson wasn’t even that good defensively. He did a solid job controlling the running game, but has more passed balls than any catcher in the league since the beginning of 2009 despite playing about half as much as the average starter.

Johnson finishes with the third-worst OPS in Mariners history among players with 500 or more plate appearances, as his .584 mark tops only Brian Hunter (.576) and the legendary Mario Mendoza (.522).

Report: Giants in “serious discussions” with Reds to acquire Billy Hamilton

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Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Giants are engaged in “serious discussions” with the Reds to acquire center fielder Billy Hamilton. Talks are apparently advanced enough that a deal could be completed before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

It’s no secret that the Giants would like to make an upgrade in the outfield this offseason, as the club has also been linked to Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Currently, the Giants’ outfield consists of Denard Span, Hunter Pence, and Jarrett Parker.

Hamilton, 27, owns a meager .248/.298/.334 batting line across parts of five seasons in the majors with the Reds. However, he has plenty of speed, having stolen at least 56 bases in each of the last four seasons. Hamilton is also well-regarded for his defense, which would be a boon at spacious AT&T Park.

Hamilton is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He’s projected to earn $5 million for this coming season. Buchanan notes that the Rangers are also interested in potentially acquiring Hamilton.