Rays send Elliot Johnson to Royals as PTBNL in James Shields trade

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Tampa Bay owed Kansas City a player to be named later from the big James Shields trade back in December and today that player was named: Elliot Johnson.

Johnson spent the past two seasons as the Rays’ utility man, but was designated for assignment last week along with Reid Brignac as Tampa Bay cleared 40-man roster space.

Johnson isn’t much of a hitter, batting .223 with a .621 OPS in 200 career games through age 28, but he’s a very good defensive infielder with plus speed and seemingly has a good shot to claim a spot on the Royals’ bench.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.