Even though Reed Johnson struggled after coming over from the Cubs in the Paul Maholm-Arodys Vizcaino deal in July, the Braves saw something they liked. They re-signed the veteran outfielder to a one-year deal with a club option for 2014.
Johnson, who turns 36 later this week, hit .302/.355/.444 in 169 at-bats for the Cubs last season, but he came in at .270/.305/.320 with no homers and just three walks in 100 at-bats for the Braves.
Used to coming off the bench, Johnson has played in at least 100 games but received no more than 270 at-bats three years running now. He’s hit over .300 against lefties each of the last seven years.
The Braves will view Johnson as an upgrade from Matt Diaz as a right-handed-hitting reserve. They’re still on the lookout for a starting left fielder to play alongside B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward.
Sources tell the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay and FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal that Ryan Ludwick is still considering whether to take the Reds’ offer or sign for a bit more money elsewhere.
The Mets are one of the teams considering Ludwick, while the Reds are believed to be offering him a two-year deal worth $6 million-$7 million per year.
Ludwick hit .275/.346/.531 with 26 homers and 80 RBI in 422 at-bats for the Reds last season He also homered three times in the five-game NLDS loss to the Giants. In this market, those numbers would seem to be worth more in the neighborhood of $8 million-$10 million per year. However, Ludwick’s history of inconsistency, combined with the age and mediocre defense, appear to have cut into his market.
Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Red Sox and setup man Koji Uehara have agreed to a one-year deal, pending a physical.
FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi says the contract has a $4.25 million base salary.
One imagines Uehara could have held out for a multiyear deal, given his career 2.89 ERA and 0.92 WHIP since arriving in the U.S. four years ago. However, he has dealt with arm problems. Last season, he had a 1.75 ERA and a ridiculous 43/3 K/BB ratio in 36 innings for Texas.
Uehara joins a Boston pen also set to include Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon, Alfredo Aceves and Craig Breslow, with Junichi Tazawa, Daniel Bard, Clayton Mortensen, Andrew Miller and Franklin Morales (if he’s not in the rotation) also in the mix. It’s possible his addition might force his countryman, Tazawa, out of the mix. Bard is out of options, so the Red Sox will have to keep him in the majors or trade him.
If this comes together, the Phillies will possess one of the most expensive infields of all-time.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers and Phillies are in “advanced talks” about a deal that would send Michael Young and cash to the Phillies for a reliever and a prospect.
The Rangers would cover more than half of the $16 million that Young is due next year in the final season of his five-year, $80 million contract. The 36-year-old Young, who has a full no-trade clause, hit .277/.312/.370 with eight homers and 67 RBI in 611 at-bats last season. He was far better in 2011, batting .338/.380/.474 with 11 homers and 106 RBI in 631 at-bats.
In return, the Rangers would likely get “a young major league reliever,” according to Grant. The guess here is that it would be Justin De Fratus, but Josh Lindblom, Michael Schwimer and Jake Diekman would also qualify. It’s hard to imagine that big right-hander Phillippe Aumont would be involved.
Young would take over as the Phillies’ third baseman, replacing free agent Placido Polanco. The infield of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Young would make a combined $62 million next year.
R.A. Dickey was the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner. And yet he’s reportedly willing to accept Ryan Dempster money in a contract extension with the Mets: $13 million per season for two years.
The Mets, however, are not willing to give him Ryan Dempster money, according to the New York Daily News. That’s simply too much. And yet they’re asking teams for two top prospects in return for him in trade talks.
“We’re in the process now,” COO Jeff Wilpon said. “It’s a negotiation. They want more than we’re willing to give right now. We want to do it for less than they want to accept right now. Somewhere in between there’s probably a deal to be done. If not, he’ll be a great bargain at $5 million playing out next season for us.”
Again, the Mets don’t think Dickey is worth Ryan Dempster/Dan Haren money, yet they think another team should be willing to fork over two of their best young talents for him, when they could, you know, just sign Ryan Dempster instead.
At this point, Dickey should really just tell the Mets to keep their money and that he’s going to test the open market. He’d be doing them a big favor by signing a two-year, $26 million extension. If he were a free agent right now, he’d have his pick of three-year, $45 million-$48 million offers, and it hardly be a shock if some team went to $20 million per year. He has a realistic shot of outperforming Zack Greinke over the next three years.
The crazy thing is that Dickey may well be worth Wil Myers from the Royals. He’s not worth the Mets’ request of shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. from the Red Sox, but he could be worth one of the two and a lesser prospect. The Angels, Dodgers, Orioles, Rangers and Tigers should all be interested, too, especially if he’s still willing to take $13 million per year from his new team. But if the Mets were going to get that return they wanted, it likely would have happened already. They should just extend him and be done with it.