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Kelly Johnson is still hunting for a major league deal

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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.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.