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.
The New York Yankees have traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report the trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report that Blash was coming back in return.
Headley, a third baseman, hit .273/.352/.406 for the Yankees last year. He, of course, played for the Padres from 2007 through the middle of 2014, when he was dealt to New York. Mitchell has pitched 48 games for the Yankees, most from the pen, over four seasons, with an ERA of 4.94 in 98.1 innings. He doesn’t strike out many and he walks a lot. He throws hard.
Blash, an outfielder, has hit .200/.323/.336 with eight homers in 279 big league plate appearances. Blash has shown a lot of power potential in the minors, but has not yet put it together in the bigs. Given what the Yankees have in their outfield at the moment, he’s going to be organizational depth or, perhaps, a chit in a future trade.
This would seem to be an exercise in salary clearing by the Yankees in anticipation of another move, as it takes about $13 million off of their payroll. Which is about how much was added to their payroll for 2018 in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. That could get Todd Frazier back for them, perhaps. Or it could help them retain CC Sabathia or go after another starting pitcher. The club likewise maintains an interest in getting under the $197 million payroll threshold which would trigger yet another year of 50% luxury tax payments for the Yankees.