St. Louis Cardinals add veteran Dan Johnson for infield depth
By Jake Misener
Ahead of Monday night’s series opener against the division-rival Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals added veteran corner infielder Dan Johnson on a Minor League deal, giving the organization further depth at the first base position.
Johnson, 35, appeared in just 15 big league games for the Toronto Blue Jays last season, compiling a .211/.333/.342 slash-line in the process. He opened this season with the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, but after struggling – striking out nine times and walking 10 in 40 plate appearances, was released recently by the club.
The former seventh-round draft pick has hit 15 or more home runs twice during his nine years in the bigs, but the last time that happened was back in 2007. His power has all but disappeared since, as he’s hit more than five long-balls just once since then.
For the Cardinals, Johnson is merely an insurance policy – and a safe one at that. In his Triple-A career, which spans a dozen seasons, the veteran is a .279/.400/.505 hitter. That aforementioned power outage that has plagued him at the Major League level has not been an issue in the Minors.
In 2014, he hit 18 homers – and since 2012, he’s racked up 67 bombs, a promising sign for the Redbirds, who are already seemingly set at first base with slugger Matt Adams – who has stepped in since the departure of Albert Pujols near-seamlessly.
Mark Reynolds signed with St. Louis in the offseason as a bench player and back-up first baseman, but has struggled at the dish, batting just .176/.300/.353 to-date. Known for his power and strikeout tendencies, Reynolds would likely see competition from Johnson if Adams was ever sidelined by injury.
For the Cardinals, a team flying high atop the NL Central, there’s no downside to signing a veteran presence like Johnson. Adams has first base locked down for the foreseeable future – but it’s always good when the front office prepares for the worst-case scenarios.