As had been rumored for some time, the Arizona Diamondbacks have secured the services of second baseman Kelly Johnson. Johnson had been the starting second baseman for the Atlanta Braves but after a rocky 2009 campaign found himself a free agent as a result of the Braves not tendering him a contract.
For the past two years the Diamondbacks had attempted to make a trade with the Braves for Johnson at one time offering first baseman Conor Jackson as part of the deal. Now General Manager Josh Byrnes has finally gotten his man.
Johnson signed a one-year deal that will pay him $2.35 million for the 2010 season. The contract allows Johnson to attempt to rebound from a subpar season where he hit just .224 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs.
Many in baseball believe Johnson’s struggles were a result of a wrist injury. After a thorough physical by the Diamondbacks medical staff the team was satisfied the wrist was healed well enough for Johnson to play a full season.
The signing gives the Diamondbacks a starting second baseman and allows the team to bring Tony Abreu along more slowly. Adding Johnson gives the Diamondbacks an excess of infielders making everyone wonder if there will be another deal forthcoming.
From a defensive perspective, the Diamondbacks now have a second baseman with below average range. That could become an issue with pitchers such as Brandon Webb and Chad Qualls who both rely on good defense behind them when throwing their sinker.
If Johnson rebounds as the Diamondbacks expect this could be a great addition offensively. Whether this is a good deal or not will be dependent on whether his success at the plate can offset the number of hits and runs his defense allows.
Only time will be able to tell if this was a good signing or if it was a desperation move to fill a need at second base with the lowest cost option. At least this is only a one year commitment so if it doesn’t work they can take a mulligan and try again next off-season.