Matt Kemp

2012 OPS projections: top 10 center fielders

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It’s an AL East-heavy top 10 in the center field projections:

.903 – Matt Kemp (Dodgers) – 597 AB – .986 in 2011
.847 – Curtis Granderson (Yankees) – 574 AB – .916 in 2011
.845 – Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox) – 612 AB – .928 in 2011
.845 – Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) – 560 AB – .820 in 2011
.825 – Colby Rasmus (Blue Jays) – 525 AB – .688 in 2011
.808 – Adam Jones (Orioles) – 571 AB – .785 in 2011
.794 – B.J. Upton (Rays) – 572 AB – .759 in 2011
.790 – Chris Young (D-backs) – 545 AB – .751 in 2011
.787 – Grady Sizemore (Indians) – 471 AB – .706 in 2011
.780 – Shane Victorino (Phillies) – 541 AB –  .847 in 2011

– All five AL East teams are represented in the top seven here. I’m guessing people will have reservations about me placing Rasmus so high, but he did come in at .859 in 2010 and he’s in a better environment for offense now. Of course, I’m not applying much weight to the fact that he was terrible after being traded to Toronto last year (.173/.201/.316 in 133 at-bats).

– Melky Cabrera and Dexter Fowler cracked the top 10 in 2011, but I don’t see encores coming up. I have Cabrera dropping from .805 to .738 in San Francisco. Fowler’s fall isn’t quite so severe;  I have him at .755, down from .795 last year. I’m not sure he can continue to maintain a .260-.270 average as often as he strikes out.

– The low man among regular center fielders is Houston’s Jordan Schafer at .680. Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez checks in at .653 in 335 at-bats.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.