Even though Reed Johnson struggled after coming over from the Cubs in the Paul Maholm-Arodys Vizcaino deal in July, the Braves saw something they liked. They re-signed the veteran outfielder to a one-year deal with a club option for 2014.
Johnson, who turns 36 later this week, hit .302/.355/.444 in 169 at-bats for the Cubs last season, but he came in at .270/.305/.320 with no homers and just three walks in 100 at-bats for the Braves.
Used to coming off the bench, Johnson has played in at least 100 games but received no more than 270 at-bats three years running now. He’s hit over .300 against lefties each of the last seven years.
The Braves will view Johnson as an upgrade from Matt Diaz as a right-handed-hitting reserve. They’re still on the lookout for a starting left fielder to play alongside B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.