Kelly Johnson Makes Sense for Phillies
By Matt Veasey
The Philadelphia Phillies are committed to rebuilding by shedding high-salaried veterans in their 30’s. However, the fact remains that they have to fill a working roster for 2015. One free agent who might be attractive is infielder Kelly Johnson.
Johnson will turn 33 years old in February. He was a 1st Round pick by the Braves in the MLB Draft back in 2000. Since breaking in to MLB with Atlanta in 2005, Johnson has bounced around 7 different organizations in his 9 big league seasons.
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The shuffling does not show that Johnson cannot stick because he isn’t valued. Rather, he is one of those “tweener” type players: good and versatile enough to help anyone, not good enough to be a longterm starter, or to invest big money in over time.
In just the last three seasons, Johnson has played significant innings, usually as a backup or injury substitute, at 2nd base, 3rd base, 1st base, and in left field, showing his defensive versatility.
At the plate, Johnson has a little pop and a little speed, having reached at least 16 homers in 6 of his 9 seasons and reached double-digits in stolen bases 5 times.
Perhaps just as importantly, Johnson wouldn’t be very expensive. He is probably looking at a one-year contract for about $3 million, which is what he made last season when he bounced through the A.L. East with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Orioles.
A look at the Phillies current roster shows that the infield has veterans Ryan Howard and Chase Utley penciled in for the right side, with rookies Cody Asche and Maikel Franco battling for the 3rd base job. Cesar Hernandez would appear to be the main backup infielder at this point.
Signing Johnson for one season would not be a difference-making move, as far as helping the team become a winner. However, he is a versatile, experienced, affordable option who could backup at a number of positions for the short-term.
This is the kind of signing that Phillies fans can expect over the next year or two, until the club feels that it is ready to begin winning again. The decision makers could do a lot worse than a player like Kelly Johnson when filling out the 2015 roster.