Nick Johnson’s minor league contract with Indians includes 2012 option

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Nick Johnson’s minor-league deal with the Indians was first reported last Tuesday, but the two sides didn’t get around to actually finalizing (and announcing) the contract until this afternoon.

Johnson won’t be ready for Opening Day after undergoing three wrist surgeries in the past year, but will be in line to receive $750,000 if he makes it back to the majors at some point in 2011.

As part of the contract, Johnson reaching the majors this season would also give Cleveland a team option on him for 2012, so if he gets healthy and produces the Indians will be able to bring him back at a reasonable rate next season.

As always with Johnson the odds are against that actually happening, as he played just 195 of a possible 648 games during the past four seasons and is 33 years old. Still, a .401 career on-base percentage is worth a $750,000 flier after the Yankees wasted $5.5 million on him last season.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.