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: