After trading Justin Ruggiano to the Cubs for the left-handed hitting Brian Bogusevic, the Miami Marlins made it known that they were looking to at a veteran right-handed outfielder. The Marlins added another name to the mix by signing Reed Johnson to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training last week.
The deal was made public through the organization's Twitter account.
OFFICIAL: #Marlins sign OF Reed Johnson to minor league contract with invite to ML spring training. Marlins now have 26 non-roster invitees.— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) January 31, 2014
Johnson posted a .244/.311/.341 line last season with the Atlanta Braves. He hit just one home run and collected 11 RBIs in 74 games. In 11 Major League seasons, Johnson is a career .282 hitter with a batting line of .282/.339/.409 and has experience playing all three outfield positions.
Although he has experience in the outfield from time with the Blue Jays, Cubs, Dodgers, and Braves, Johnson was used primarily as a pinch hitter coming off of Fredi Gonzalez's bench last year. He hit .297 in 37 pinch-hit at-bats (.801 OPS) and was 18-43 as a pinch-hitter in Atlanta in 2012.
With Marcell Ozuna and Jake Marisnick both coming back from injuries, the only outfielder the Marlins are confident in is Giancarlo Stanton. Ozuna had left thumb surgery while Marisnick underwent knee surgery the day after the season ended.
MLB Trade Rumors noted that Johnson was too expensive for the Braves' liking, which led to them paying his $150K buyout instead of trying to resign him.
Last year, with the Braves, Johnson struggled to a .244/.311/.341 line in just 136 plate appearances, leading the club to decline his $1.6MM option and instead pay him a $150K buyout. He was much better over the previous two seasons, however, combining to log 554 plate appearances while slashing .299/.342/.431.
The Marlins, of course, have plenty of interesting young outfielders, the oldest and most-established of whom -- Giancarlo Stanton -- is only 24. Before today's signing, the grizzled veteran of the outfield corps was Brian Bogusevic, who is 29 and has yet to qualify for arbitration. While the club figures to give plenty of playing time to its younger group, Johnson should bring veteran presence, depth, and some healthy spring competition.
Matt Angle and Joe Benson are also non-roster invitees who will have a chance to make the team. Benson, a former top Minnesota prospect, will likely have the better opportunity because he hits from the right side of the plate.
Johnson becomes the 26th non-roster invitee on Miami's Spring Training roster.