In the wake of Jurickson Profar undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, the Rangers have signed journeyman middle infielder Elliot Johnson to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Johnson obviously can’t replace Profar and may not even make the Opening Day roster, but the 31-year-old gives Texas some added depth.
He played briefly for the Indians last season and has spent parts of five years in the majors for four different teams, hitting .215 with 12 homers, 46 steals, and a .586 OPS in 318 games.
Making official what was expected, Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar underwent shoulder surgery and has been ruled out for the season.
Profar missed all of last year with shoulder problems, but was attempting to bypass surgery and take the rest-and-rehab route before a recent setback.
Once the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball, Profar is now facing back-to-back lost seasons and will again try to return in 2016 at age 23. In retrospect he’d obviously choose to go under the knife last year, but general manager Jon Daniels defended Profar’s original decision to put off surgery.
Adrian Beltre’s contract includes a $16 million option for 2016 that would have vested if he reached 586 plate appearances this season, but the Rangers have decided to exercise the option early.
If healthy Beltre is a no-brainer to keep for $16 million, as he’s consistently been one of the elite third basemen in baseball for more than a decade and last season hit .324 with 19 homers and an .879 OPS in 148 games. Of course, there’s some “you never know what might happen” risk to exercising the option early, as there would be with any 36-year-old player.
As for why the Rangers did it now, general manager Jon Daniels indicated that he didn’t want the plate appearance count to become a distraction and, perhaps more importantly, there’s speculation that the two sides are working on a contract extension that would stretch beyond 2016.
As soon as the Blue Jays signed Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal it seemed obvious that they’d try to find a new home for last year’s starting catcher, Dioner Navarro.
It hasn’t happened yet and the Blue Jays claim they’re willing to go forward with Navarro in a backup role, but the 31-year-old switch-hitter revealed to reporters today that he requested a trade “right away” in the wake of the Martin signing and is “disappointed” a deal hasn’t happened yet.
Navarro went on to say the right things about playing hard for the Blue Jays if they don’t trade him, but clearly he wants to go somewhere he can start regularly and plenty of teams could use him in a bigger role than he’ll receive with Martin getting top billing in Toronto.
Navarro hit .274 with 12 homers and a .712 OPS in 139 games last season and is owed $5 million for 2015.
B.J. Upton announced Sunday that he now wants to go by his birth name, Melvin Upton Jr., and considering his struggles for the Braves in recent years lots of people assumed he was doing it as a way to clean the slate/turn the page/whatever cliche you want to use.
Not so, says Upton, telling Mark Bowman of MLB.com:
This has nothing to do with starting a new chapter. I just wanted to. My father thought enough to give me his name, so why not? It was the name that was given to me as a kid. So I felt I wanted to go by my real name. Most of my friends call me Mel or Melvin. Nobody really calls me B.J., except at the stadium.
“B.J.” stood for Bossman Junior, because Upton’s father was known as Bossman.