Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Braves continue to shop third baseman Chris Johnson. The Braves are considering deals in which Johnson would be attached to another player, not unlike the early April deal that sent outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Padres along with closer Craig Kimbrel.
Rosenthal adds that, despite a need for a third baseman, the Giants aren’t interested in Johnson. However, if the Braves used the same model they used to get the Padres to take Upton, they might coerce the Giants into taking Johnson off of their hands.
Johnson, 30, is owed the remainder of his $6 million salary for the 2015 season, plus $7.5 million in 2016, $9 million in 2017, and $1 million for a buyout in 2018. So far this season, he has hit .229/.272/.313 with one home run and seven RBI in 103 plate appearances. Johnson suffered a fractured hand and bone bruises earlier this season.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.