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Rays sign Kelly Johnson to one-year deal

Jan 28, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT

Kelly Johnson AP

Kelly Johnson has agreed to a one-year contract with the Rays, according to Ken Rosenthal of

Johnson was very productive early in his career, posting an .800 OPS through age 28, but now he’s 31 years old and hit just .223 with a .698 OPS in 289 games during the past two seasons.

He does have 20-homer power, 15-steal speed, and good plate discipline, which is a combination that makes him worth a flier for Tampa Bay as they try to add some pop to the lineup on a budget, but Johnson isn’t much of a defender at second base and may end up playing mostly in the outfield if the Rays decide they’d rather keep Ben Zobrist as an infielder.

Either way, the Rays love power, patience, and positional flexibility, so Johnson is an interesting pickup. And if he doesn’t play well Tampa Bay can easily push him aside once top prospect Wil Myers is deemed ready.

  1. paint771 - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Weird. Between Johnson, Escobar, and Molina, the Rays are now exclusively fielding Blue Jays castoffs up the middle.

    • paint771 - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      And, I should add, what was so frustrating about Escobar and Johnson in particular – and what makes me a bit nervous about them playing in the division – is they always seemed like they could be very productive players at premium spots, but never, you know, were. Escobar a little less (I think he’s underrated), but Johnson in particular just became a black hole at the bottom of the lineup, just a straight up dead zone, particularly against left-handers.

      BUT, both can, in flashes, be really impressive, and I could see either one of them putting it together and and being very productive for long stretches. But they sure couldn’t for the Jays. I’d much prefer them in Arizona than Tampa, because I’ll be really annoyed if they turn it around for a division rival.

      • cur68 - Jan 28, 2013 at 7:01 PM

        If they turn it around against Our Boys I will swear vendetta against them.

  2. Shafer's Dealer - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    Ever since June 6th 2008, I have hated him.
    He dropped an infield fly with two outs in the 9th. Phillies went on to win the game in extras due to that error.

    Whatever, I am how I am about the game. Who will cast the first stone? We all have a player we don’t like because of an unforgivable fvck up.

    Little pick-me-up for the phillies fan today…

  3. tc4306 - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Rays may be going all Oakland A’s “platoon crazy” on us. Joyce, Johnson, Loney and Scott will hit vs right handed pitching. They could replace three of them with Duncan, Roberts and Rodriguez vs lefties. Good chance one of the left handed bats is on the DL for a good chunk of the season, so this may all work out.

  4. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Good plate discipline? I remember him being quite the strikeout machine while he was with the Jays.

    • arungupta27 - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      His K rate his high but so is his BB rate.

  5. proudlycanadian - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    His versatility and his familiarity with Escobar made him a good fit with the Rays. I wish him well and expect him to strike out a lot when facing the Jays.

  6. jaysjunkie - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    He was my least favourite Jay last year just because he was so brutal with the K’s. Defensively, he’s nothing more than adequate or serviceable. Seemed like a nice enough guy, though, so I hope he turns it around in Tampa Bay…just not against us.

    • Gobias Industries - Jan 28, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      That ain’t how we spell “favorite” in this country, Canuck. U-S-A! U-S…eh, forget it, I’m bored already.

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