The Marlins returned a fan favorite player by signing Reed Johnson Johnson became a fan favorite among the Miami fans. Johnson has been around the league more then a few times and is a calming influence on the Miami locker room. Last season Johnson held together Miami's young locker room and was a great mentor to the Marlins' young outfielders such as Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich.
Last season Johnson posted a .235/.266/.348 line in 113 games and was used mainly as a utility man. In the past Johnson has played for the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Toronto Blue Jays in his 12 year major league career. Johnson has a .280 career batting average and has 65 home runs to his name.
While it is just a minor league deal with a spring training invitation, the Johnson signing cannot be played off. Johnson is a great leader and could possibly be used as a valuable utility player alongside Ichiro Suzuki. Johnson has been a great influence on the locker room and if he makes the big league Marlins he has the potential to make an impression on the Marlins' young roster.
In other news the Marlins hired Lenny Harris as assistant hitting coach. Harris played for the Marlins for 3 seasons and was a member of the 2003 World Series team. In his three years with the Marlins Harris posted a .257/.309/.341 slash line. Beyond his experience and knowledge of the game, Harris is known as a very hard worker and can quickly get to work mentoring some of the Marlins young hitters. Overall a great move for both sides and hopefully Harris' influence can help the Marlins collection of young players.
Around the League
The Phillies are a mess and Cole Hamels wants out. Hamels said in an interview, "Winning isn't happening here" and made his wishes to be elsewhere clear. The Phillies have been openly shopping Hamels all offseason but many teams are reluctant to take his huge salary and the Phillies are asking for significant return for the 31 year old pitcher who is signed through 2018. He isn't demanding a trade, but he's being truthful, something seldom seen from today's players.
After having a tough season last year Justin Verlander has put in work to improve his game this offseason. According to people within the organization, Verlander is showing better velocity and his pitches were crisper. In 2014 Verlander posted a career worst 4.54 ERA. Verlander has reportedly put on 20 pounds of muscle this offseason. He could be back to his ace form this season.
As the NFL has found out concussions are a big deal. The MLB is likely to face a concussion related lawsuit from former players who have sustained brain injuries. The MLB has been quite proactive in protect players though, banning home plate collisions in 2014 and adopting a league-wide concussion policy in 2007. But as many players and fans know, baseball is a contact sports sometimes and a lawsuit could force the MLB to implement even tighter concussion protocol. Whether anything surfaces from this or not one thing is for sure, The MLB needs to take notes on how the NHL and NFL have handled concussions.
The Baltimore Orioles are finalizing a deal with former San Diego Padres Shortstop Everth Cabrera. The Baltimore Sun reports a one year minor league deal is being finalized between both sides. Cabrera had a tough 2014 season he had a slash line of just .232/.272/.300. Cabrera is only one year removed from an All-Star season where he hit .283 and stole 37 bases. Overall it is a low risk deal with potential high reward for the Orioles.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has undergone surgery to remove a growth from a bone in his left foot. He is expected to miss the beginning of the season as part of being out 8-12 weeks. Jansen saved 44 games and had a 2.76 ERA in 68 appearances out the bullpen for the Dodgers.
At Fish Stripes
Jarrett Cowgill takes a look at the Marlins non-roster invitees. Are there any diamonds in the rough for the Marlins' prospects?
Vegas is predicting the Fish to break an even .500 this season. Will they preform above or below expectations? Michael Jong examines the odds of the Marlins having an above or below expectation season.
With the Marlins farm system drained, Michael Jong examines what is left of the Marlins low-ranking farm system.
James Shields turned down the Fish in order to sign with the Padres. Yet the Marlins made the pitcher a $60 million offer. Scott Gelmen examines the Fish's motive and what Shields would have done for the Marlins rotation
Eric Mullin examines why Baseball Prospectus ranks Miami dead last in their farm system rankings.