Drew Silva

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Kelly Johnson could return to the Braves


Kelly Johnson opened the 2015 season with the Braves before moving to the Mets on July 24 as part of a four-player trade. Johnson also began his career with Atlanta back in 2005 and played there through 2009.

The Braves have entered into full rebuilding mode under new president John Hart and Johnson turns 34 years old next month, but there is talk of a reunion for 2016.

MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweeted Tuesday evening that Johnson and the Braves are having “continued discussions” about a contract, and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution says it’s a “better than 50/50 chance” the two sides work out a deal.

Johnson can play all around the diamond defensively, so he’s a decent fit for a team that figures to have a lot of moving parts. He posted a cool .750 OPS with 14 home runs and 47 RBI in 111 games between Atlanta and New York last summer.

A one- or two-year contract should do it.

Padres, Ian Desmond having “ongoing discussions”

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It’s been a slow-moving offseason for free agent Ian Desmond, but things appear to be picking up for the 30-year-old shortstop here in the new year.

According to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, the Padres “are having ongoing discussions” with Desmond’s agent. And though no deal appears imminent, Morosi calls Desmond to San Diego “the most logical scenario in the entire industry” because of the Friars’ middle infield needs.

Desmond rejected a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Nationals in November, so his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation. But the Padres’ first-round selection in 2016 (eighth overall) is protected. It would almost be a waste for them not to sign one QO-linked free agent.

Desmond had 19 homers, 62 RBI, and 13 stolen bases in 156 games last season for the Nationals, though that came alongside a .674 OPS (80 OPS+). He was a 20-homer, 20-steals guy for three straight years from 2012-2014, averaging a .788 OPS (114 OPS+) during that stretch.

Braves ink reliever Alex Torres to minor league contract

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As first reported by MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, the Braves have signed left-handed reliever Alex Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres should have a good shot at claiming an Opening Day roster spot with Atlanta after posting a 3.15 ERA across 39 appearances for the Mets in 2015. He does have an issue with control — see the 86 walks in 154 1/3 career innings — but the 28-year-old southpaw has fared pretty well in terms of overall run prevention against both lefties and righties. His current career ERA is a shiny 2.68, and he strikes out over a batter per inning.

Torres is probably best known for the prototype protective cap he’s been wearing since June 2014. It should look a little better in Atlanta’s dark navy than it did in the Mets’ bright blue.

Diamondbacks have spoken to free agent second baseman Howie Kendrick

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It’s been a sluggish winter for second baseman Howie Kendrick, who hit .295/.336/.409 with nine home runs and 54 RBI in 117 games last season for the Dodgers. He rejected a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from Los Angeles in November, which means his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation. And he’ll turn 33 years old this July.

One option, if Kendrick gets desperate enough, could be Arizona.

Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart addressed the idea this week with beat writer Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic

As for free-agent options at second base, Stewart said he did not speak with Daniel Murphy, who recently signed a three-year deal with the Nationals, but has talked to Howie Kendrick, though he didn’t sound optimistic on that front.

“I just don’t know how far we’re going to get down the road with that,” Stewart said, sounding extremely hesitant to give up another draft pick in addition to the one the club surrendered to sign Greinke.

Chris Owings is currently projected to open the 2016 season as the Diamondbacks’ primary starter at second base, with Aaron Hill backing him up in a utility role. Owings batted just .227/.264/.322 in 147 games last season for Arizona, but he was a consensus top-100 prospect two winters ago and he is only 24 years old.

Rangers sign catcher Michael McKenry to minor league deal

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Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake reports that the club has agreed to terms on a minor league contract with veteran catcher Michael McKenry. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training, though McKenry seems to doubtful to beat out Chris Gimenez for the responsibility of backing up starting Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos.

McKenry batted .315/.398/.512 in 192 plate appearances with the Rockies in 2014, but he predictably regressed in a huge way last season. Colorado outrighted him off the 40-man roster in mid-October.

The 30-year-old is a .239/.319/.407 career hitter in the major leagues.