Kelly Johnson has finally found a home with the Tampa Bay Rays. Johnson and the Rays have agreed on a one-year deal. The second baseman spent the last season and a half in Toronto where he hit .233/.323/.375 with 19 home runs in 175 games for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Adding Johnson, 31 on February 22nd, at second base will allow Joe Maddon to move Ben Zobrist into the outfield more often. Knowing Maddon, he might also play Johnson in the outfield at times just to keep the lineup fresh.
This is a good move by the Rays. Johnson is a middle infielder with some very good pop in his bat and should help pick up the slack from the Rays losing B.J. Upton to the Atlanta Braves this off-season. Obviously, the Rays don’t expect Johnson to replace Upton but Johnson could help offset the loss of offense. The Rays also have Wil Myers waiting in the wings to pick up the slack in the outfield from the Upton loss.
Johnson, a left-handed hitter, actually doesn’t show a gruesome split that some hitters do against same-handed pitchers. Johnson has hit .274/.336/.442 against lefties in his career and .247/.339/.424 against right-handers.
Adding Johnson isn’t as sexy as what the Blue Jays have done but Johnson should help the Rays quite a bit, especially since they lost Jeff Keppinger this off-season. Losing Keppinger to free agency was a blow to the Rays but in Johnson they are getting a very good replacement in the middle of the infield.
Johnson is a career .255/.338/.429 hitter with 108 career home runs and can also steal a base from time to time, swiping 72 in his seven-year career. He should become a vital member of the Rays lineup.