Kelly Johnson has agreed to a one-year contract with the Rays, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Johnson was very productive early in his career, posting an .800 OPS through age 28, but now he’s 31 years old and hit just .223 with a .698 OPS in 289 games during the past two seasons.
He does have 20-homer power, 15-steal speed, and good plate discipline, which is a combination that makes him worth a flier for Tampa Bay as they try to add some pop to the lineup on a budget, but Johnson isn’t much of a defender at second base and may end up playing mostly in the outfield if the Rays decide they’d rather keep Ben Zobrist as an infielder.
Either way, the Rays love power, patience, and positional flexibility, so Johnson is an interesting pickup. And if he doesn’t play well Tampa Bay can easily push him aside once top prospect Wil Myers is deemed ready.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.