Josh Johnson is out for the season following a second Tommy John elbow surgery and never even got to throw a regular season pitch for the Padres, but now he’s keeping busy by coaching the other pitchers on San Diego’s staff.
Corey Brock of MLB.com explains:
“Really, the only thing I can do is help these guys out where I can,” Johnson said. “Since the team came back from that last road trip, I have watched pretty much every single bullpen [session]. I will do that again when they come back from this trip, too.”
The Padres have a pitching coach (Darren Balsley) and a bullpen coach (Willie Blair). And now they have Johnson, who has volunteered his services, his eyes and opinions to the team if they want it.
“I love it,” Balsley said. “This wasn’t anything he asked to do, either. Going back to Spring Training … JJ was the same way, watching other guys pitch in the bullpen. I think part of it is he really wants to be a part of this team. He was really looking forward to pitching here. He has been very supportive for the pitchers. I’ve given him free reign to help out where he sees fit.”
A one-year, $8 million contract makes Johnson the world’s highest-paid coach, but it’s still a cool story because, as Brock writes, he “could just as easily slip in for his rehab work before games and leave undetected, free to head home.” Instead he’s hanging out, helping young pitchers, and generally just being a good guy to have around. All of which is especially interesting because the Padres hold a $4 million team option on Johnson for 2015.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.