The Diamondbacks handed a one-year contract offer to free agent second baseman Kelly Johnson last week thought to be worth around $2 million. According to a Monday evening report from MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, they’re hoping to hear back from the infielder within the next few days.
Johnson drew a surprising amount of interest this winter despite posting a disappointing .224/.303/.389 batting line during the regular season. The Cardinals, Nationals, and Astros were all in the mix for the second
baseman and the Pirates were even considering using him in the outfield.
The D’Backs, though, can offer Johnson what most other clubs haven’t been willing to — a full-time job at second base. Acquiring the 27-year-old would also allow Arizona management to get serious about dealing infielder Augie Ojeda, who surfaced as a possible trade candidate during December’s Winter Meetings and drew a decent level of interest from opposing clubs.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.