Reds Acquire Veteran Johnson

As Cincinnati works to form their opening day roster they’re also adding organizational depth in case there is an unexpected need to dip down into the minors for some action during the season. They are hopeful that situation doesn’t arise at first base, but if it does they now have veteran Dan Johnson in the system who is trying to hang onto his professional baseball career at the age of 35.

In the week after moving out AAA corner infielder Neftali Soto Cincinnati added organizational depth Thursday when they traded for 35 year-old veteran Dan Johnson from Houston for either a player to be named later or cash. It’s certainly not a high profile trade, Johnson came to Houston last December after he was granted free agency by Toronto and has made 100 plate appearances in only one season since 2007. He did see more regular duty with Oakland in the first three years of his career, the best one being his rookie season in 2005 when he had an AVG/OBP of .275/.355 in 109 game while hitting 15 HR to raise his slugging percentage to .451.

Unfortunately for Johnson and Oakland he wasn’t able to sustain those levels, though he did hit 18 homers in 2007 and has a lifetime slugging percentage over .400. His .236 lifetime batting average isn’t much to write home about, but he does have good plate discipline which has allowed him to reach base at a .337 clip. When he wasn’t with the Blue Jays last season he hit .232 with 18 HR for AAA Buffalo and his on-base average of .381 was quite surprising considering the batting average.

Johnson hits left-handed, and though he’s had some seasons with scarce MLB action he’s managed to make appearances at that level in nine of the past ten seasons. Defensively nearly all of his action has been at first base with a handful of appearances at third base and left field. This season he’ll probably see regular duty at Louisville and given his past history, don’t count out this veteran for making at least a few MLB appearances somewhere.

In another deal the Reds sent minor league shortstop Devin Lohman to Philadelphia for a player to be named or cash. The 2007 third-round selection completed his second season at AA Pensacola last year where he hit .245 AVG/.310 OB, only modest increases over his previous season in 2013. He’ll turn 26 soon after opening day and will see a change of scenery in the Phillies organization.

There’s still competition for remaining roster spots as the team needs to winnow down to 25 for opening day. If non-roster invite Brennan Boesh fails to make the club as a reserve outfielder, then nothing much can be read into spring training stats because he’s hitting .357 with a team-high three home runs. Infielder Chris Dominguez has a couple of dingers while cracking the .300 AVG level and Irving Falu is hitting .292 with a splendid .375 on-base percentage. Eugenio Suarez’s assignment to Louisville last week was foreshadowing that one of the non-roster invites will make the club as a utility infielder when the team heads north.

On the mound Michael Lorenzen has pitched eleven innings over which he’s allowed only a couple of runs and the 2013 draft choice is now forcing his way into conversations for the team’s long-man out of the bullpen. Anthony DeSclafani is asserting his claim to a rotation spot with a sub-two ERA over nineteen-plus innings. Veteran Paul Maholm has an ernie under two also while tossing twelve-plus frames which could land him a lefty role in the pen while Jason Marquis is sitting on a low three while leading the team with 20 Cactus League IP.

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