Cleveland acquired infielder Chris Johnson is an August swap of bad contracts that sent outfielders Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to Atlanta. He played 27 games for the Indians down the stretch and now, rather than keep Johnson around for 2016, they’ve released him.
Johnson is still owed $7.5 million in 2016, $9 million in 2017, and a $1 million buyout in 2018, but the Indians viewed the 31-year-old as a sunk cost and decided they had better ways to use his roster spot. Plus, taking on the remainder of his contract was part of getting Swisher and Bourn off the books, so the deal was never really about actually using Johnson.
Johnson had back-to-back productive seasons in 2012 and 2013, but his success was always built on high batting averages on balls in play and the combination of terrible plate discipline and modest power left him without much value when the singles stopped falling in. He’ll probably latch on somewhere as a part-time player, but may have to do so on a minor-league contract.