Free agent infielder/outfielder Kelly Johnson is reportedly receiving interest from a number of teams, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. That list includes the Blue Jays, Reds and Braves, though none of them appear willing to meet Johnson’s only criterion: that he receive a major league deal for 2017.
That isn’t a tall order for the 35-year-old, who has proven his mettle during seven different major league gigs over the last three years. He split his 2016 season between the Braves and Mets, slashing a cumulative .247/.306/.391 with 10 home runs and a .698 OPS in 333 PA. While he’s unlikely to secure a starting role this late in the year, he profiles well as a left-handed bat and could provide some depth at second and third base (or the outfield corners, in a pinch) for a team with limited options.
Should Johnson relent and accept a non-roster invite, he could compete for a backup role among a slew of Reds’ bench candidates. Ryan Raburn and Desmond Jennings are the frontrunners in that category, though neither has impressed at the plate during spring training so far. Alternatively, Johnson could give the Blue Jays some injury insurance while Josh Donaldson works his way back to third base or, failing that, accept a fourth stint with the Braves alongside fellow utility man Jace Peterson. In any case, a major league deal looks like a long shot with just over two weeks left before Opening Day.
Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.
While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.
Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.
Cooperstown, here he comes.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.
The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.
Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.