Ronny Cedeno and Kelly Johnson Find Jobs
Former Met Ronny Cedeno has latched on with the St. Louis Cardinals, agreeing to a one-year, $1.15M contract. I think Cedeno is a fine utility man and at that salary, makes plenty of sense for a Major League caliber team with its eye on the postseason. For a team hell bent on cutting costs, building a team with youth, and not driven toward a playoff appearance in 2013, Cedeno doesn’t make much sense — which is why he wasn’t brought back to Flushing.
Kelly Johnson found an opportunity to play with the Rays, agreeing to a one-year deal that appears to be a guaranteed MLB contract. Personally, I’ve always liked the way Johnson plays the game, and thought he’d be a good fit for the no-longer-new front office regime, which purportedly values Johnson’s two main assets: homerun power and ability to reach base. A converted outfielder, Johnson’s defense at second base has never been stellar, but it’s adequate. His batting average, however, has been maddeningly inconsistent from year to year — he could just as easily bat .280 as he could .220 — which he did last year for the Toronto Blue Jays. I know the Mets are expecting Daniel Murphy to win a batting title one of these years, but regardless, it might’ve made sense to consider adding Johnson to the roster, to both provide a little motivation for Murphy and provide an outfield option. Yes, Johnson is a lefthanded hitter and no, he hasn’t played the OF in several years, but the relatively low price for his potential upside would seem attractive to the bargain-hunting Mets.
Yet another infielder, Yuniesky Betancourt, signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies. Once upon a time, Betancourt could fly, had surprising pop, and had the raw tools to become a slick fielder — all he needed was some discipline and polish to be a borderline All-Star. However, he became worse and worse with every new season, and this is likely his last shot as a MLBer. Then again, Wilson Betemit won’t go away, either.
Chad Durbin received a one-year, $1.1M MLB contract that includes another $300K in incentives and an option. Durbin quietly had a solid year as a middle reliever in Atlanta’s bullpen; good pickup by the Phils.
The Phillies also invited journeymen Joe Mather and Brian Bass to spring training, giving both minor-league deals. You may remember Mather as a tall, impressive-looking outfielder for the Cardinals who appeared to be a slugger. He hit 31 homers in the minors in 2007 and posted a 1.041 OPS in a half-season in AAA the following year, before being promoted to the bigs, where he clubbed 8 homers in 54 games / 133 at-bats (which projects to 35+ over a full season). However, he suffered a wrist injury that limited him to only 59 minor league games in 2009, and has not been the same since. Mather spent last season spitting sunflower seeds in the Chicago Cubs dugout, making occasional pinch-hitting appearances. Why so much text about Mather? Because he’s a righthanded-hitting outfielder who once flashed power, and we know the Mets are in the market for those attributes. Should the Mets have signed the 30-year-old Mather? You decide.
Speaking of righthanded-hitting outfielders, Juan Rivera agreed to a minor-league deal with the Yankees.
Freddy Garcia has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Padres. Good move for Garcia to go into that big park to rejuvenate his career for the fourth time.
Hideki Okajima has been released by the SoftBank Hawks and is seeking a Major League job. Would he make sense for the Mets bullpen?
Nick Johnson has finally retired. I hope he can avoid injuring himself on the golf course.
Mild irony, courtesy of The Captain’s Blog: Nick Johnson retirement was announced the same day as Juan Rivera’s signing, and coincided with the news that Javier Vazquez‘s comeback is on a detour. Many years ago, the Yankees sent Johnson and Rivera to the Montreal Expos for Vazquez.