The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired Kelly Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Aaron Hill and John McDonald.

Long rumoured to be on the wish list of Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos, Johnson comes to Toronto one year removed from a BABIP boosted .377 wOBA and .865 OPS in 2010. Unfortunately, things haven’t been so kind to the former Braves second baseman (yes, the Blue Jays now have the 2009 Atlanta Braves’ middle infield) this season: .310 wOBA, .287 OBP, .412 SLG, 9.1% walk rate, and an astoundingly high 27.4% strike out rate.

In acquiring Johnson, the Blue Jays once again are picking up a player at the bottom of his value. Currently residing in manager Kirk Gibson’s doghouse in Arizona, the left handed hitting Johnson will be ranked close to Type A status as an American League middle infielder, meaning he has the potential to bring back better compensation than Hill if he signs elsewhere this offseason. However, Johnson’s struggles put the Blue Jays in the exact same boat in which they would’ve found themselves with Hill.

Johnson is making $5.85 million this season and it’s a very real possibility that he will accept an arbitration offer from the Blue Jays due to the unlikelihood of the open market offering him a multi-year deal that would pay him more than a marginal raise. The odds of that become even less likely if he attains Type A status.

I suppose you could say that Ned Colletti’s financial handcuffs in Los Angeles, Jim Hendry’s firing in Chicago and Ed Wade’s imminent demise in Houston will have ripple effects this offseason.

For the Blue Jays, Johnson accepting a guaranteed one year raise from the $5.85 million he’s making this year is probably a better scenario than Hill accepting the same thing from $4 million considering that Toronto would’ve had to have paid Hill $1 million to buy out the team options on his contract, but even then it’s only marginally better.

From Arizona’s perspective, I find it hard to understand the motivation behind this trade. Sure, the manager gets rid of a player he had problems with and Hill likely boosts the team’s ability against left handed pitching, but with .315 wOBA, compared to a .317 wOBA vs RHP, the Diamondbacks were hardly hurting in that area. As for John McDonald, with Stephen Drew out for the season, Arizona acquired perhaps the only player in the league with worse career offensive numbers than their current substitute Willie Bloomquist.

Of course, Blue Jays fans will miss McDonald whose defensive efforts at shortstop during his time here earned him the rare honour of being the only bench player in baseball to consistently earn standing ovations. But if any solace can be taken from the Blue Jays press conference, it’s that McDonald intends to return if given the opportunity.

For your listening pleasure, here is the Getting Blanked team’s initial response:

Comments (14)

  1. johnny mac is by far the best below-average baseball player i have ever seen.

  2. When will teams just stop dealing with Anthopoulos? I mean it has to happen right?

  3. It appears as though we are just upgrading our worst position player slightly, and you can’t find fauly in that. If we bring Johnson back he isn’t as much of a liability as Hill is. But bring the Mac-attack back for sure.

  4. Thanks to Johnny Mac and Aaron for their years of service, Best of luck in Arizona. Be nice to see them make a playoff run.

    Hopefully Kelly can turn it around in Toronto. If not another pick next year and the possibility of bringing Aaron or Johnny back.

  5. Take that back. This blog is Giants country, my friend.

  6. Kelly Johnson brings OBP potential, despite his poor showing this season. He has had 3 seasons with an OBP above .340 (Aaron Hill only has two, and those were his first two seasons). Johnson has also put up two seasons in which his OBP was above .370.

    We don’t need our 2B to hit homers, we need people who get on-base, and Kelly Johnson has proven he can do that in the past.

  7. Is Johnson even arb eligible?

  8. First Cesc, then Nasri, now Johnny Mac. I am a sad, sad Panda.

  9. JMac is a great defensive sub and he’s loved (Hill as well, but he’s looked out of sorts for awhile), but a 2B that can walk or not hit popups at a rediculous rate will be so nice!

  10. “Blue Jays once again are picking up a player at the bottom of his value”… yes, but they’re also giving up a player at the bottom of his value. it’s a buy low, sell low. strange trade all round. AA clearly has major boners for johnson for some reason

  11. J Mac will be a coach someday soon for Toronto.

  12. Is it just me, or is AA getting incredibly fat for an assassin?

  13. From Arizona’s perspective, they now actually have a shortstop who can play reasonably well defensively. Johnny Mac’s bat isn’t likely to be much worse than Bloomquist or Cody Ransom, and he’ll add significant value in the field. If JMac hits at the level he has this year, he’s probably slightly above replacement; Bloomquist and Ransom are both below-replacement. That’s an upgrade, and one that doesn’t even factor in the gratitude that Diamondbacks pitchers will have in receiving respectable defence behind them.

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