The St. Louis Cardinals filled their roster opening at Triple-A Memphis with a hitter, as free agent first baseman Dan Johnson has signed a minor league contract with the organization, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
The 35-year-old was recently released by Cincinnati after being traded there at the end of spring training from Houston, where he was a non-roster invitee to Major League camp. Johnson opened the regular season with the Reds’ Triple-A Louisville club, where he posted a slash line of .069/.325/.069 in 40 plate appearances.
In 431 Major League games since his 2005 debut, the left-handed batter has a career line of .236/.337/.409 with Oakland, Tampa, the White Sox, Baltimore and most recently, 15 games with Toronto last season. The former University of Nebraska star and Minnesota native played in Japan during the 2009 season.
On his way up in the A’s system, Johnson was the Most Valuable Player of the 2004 Pacific Coast League, where he now returns. He was also the MVP of the other Triple-A circuit, the International League, in 2010.
Brian Walton’s take
It appears the Cardinals want to try to externally infuse some offense into an 8-15 Memphis club that is second-to-last in the 16-team Pacific Coast League in runs scored.
One would expect that with Johnson’s arrival, incumbent first baseman Xavier Scruggs, The Cardinal Nation’s Player of the Month for April, may be seeing more time in the outfield in games in which the designated hitter is not used. Further, the Redbirds have been going with just three true outfielders on the roster in Mike O'Neill, Rafael Ortega and Stephen Piscotty.
Looking down the road a bit, there seems little opportunity for a left-handed hitting first baseman in St. Louis unless Matt Adams is injured. Scruggs bats from the right side as does MLB reserve Mark Reynolds.
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