Ernie Johnson Sr., a former major league pitcher better known for his long tenure in the broadcast booth with the Braves, passed away Friday night at age 87.
Johnson went 40-23 in a nine-year major league career spent mostly with the Boston and Milwaukee Braves. Primarily a middle reliever before such a role got much attention, he finished his career with 19 saves and a 3.77 ERA. He had his best year in 1953, the Braves’ first in Milwaukee, went he amassed a 2.67 ERA in 81 innings. He followed that up with a 2.81 ERA in 99 1/3 innings in 1954. Also, he allowed one run over seven innings in the Braves’ 1957 World Series victory over the Yankees.
But it was his second career for which he’ll long be remembered. Johnson worked with the Braves from 1962-99, doing both play-by-play and color. Even after his retirement, he spent at least one series in the Atlanta booth in each of the next several seasons. He worked with his son, Ernie Johnson Jr., in the SportSouth booth from 1993-96, and the Braves inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 2001.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.