Some people might say this is a slow news day, but I beg to differ because the Mets have signed catcher Rob Johnson to a minor-league contract.
Johnson figures to compete with Mike Nickeas for the job backing up starter Josh Thole.
Johnson spent the first seven years of his pro career with the Mariners before joining the Padres this past season, hitting .190 with three homers and a .544 OPS in 67 games. And as ugly as those numbers look they’re basically equal to Johnson’s career marks, which include a .197 average and .573 OPS.
Of course, Nickeas has very little major-league experience and hasn’t even hit much in the minors, so Johnson seemingly has a legitimate chance to win the backup gig in camp.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.