With a lack of offense at first base currently, could the St. Louis Cardinals make a deal for beleaguered Atlanta Braves infielder Chris Johnson?
According to media reports this week, Johnson has reportedly asked for a trade and was also informed that the team is actively trying to move him, adding another name to a quickly-growing list of players who could be on the move in the next two weeks.
"“In some ways, it’s nerve-wracking because you never know what to expect every day when you go to the park,” Johnson told MLB.com. “It’s been a frustrating year. From the beginning of the offseason, it’s been really pretty clear that the team has no interest in getting me back to form or to give me regular playing time.”"
Johnson was displaced by the team’s acquisition of Juan Uribe earlier this year and he’s struggled since putting up solid numbers in both 2012 and 2013.
This season, the former fourth-round pick of the Houston Astros is batting just .241/.282/.319 in 46 games with the Braves, drawing just six walks to 37 strikeouts.
The biggest obstacle to trading him? His contract, which guarantees him somewhere along the lines of $20-plus million through 2017.
Now, here’s where the Cardinals come in.
First off, if Atlanta is even remotely serious about dealing Johnson, the front office understands that it won’t be able to unload his entire contract. That being said, it’s not unreasonable to think that there are teams out there who see value in the slugger and what he could bring to the table given a serious chance.
Right now, St. Louis has a gaping offensive hole at first base, where Mark Reynolds is filling in for left-handed-hitting Matt Adams, who is done for the year thanks to an injury. Adding Johnson into the mix at first may very well change all that.
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Here’s why this would make sense.
Unlike players like Ryan Howard, who exclusively play first, Johnson can also provide help at third base on days when Matt Carpenter is shifted over to a middle-infield slot. This differentiates him, in my mind, when considering the fact that he’s locked up for the next few years.
Howard would be dead weight once Adams returns from injury. But a bench bat like Johnson would give St. Louis a legitimate offensive threat with some defensive value, as well, only strengthening the team’s lineup – not just for this season, but for the years to come.
"“I took a little step back in 2014, but in 2013 I was pretty high up there in the National League in hitting. So, it just feels like that ship has kind of sailed and I’m kind of like an afterthought. I would love to help somebody out. I still have plenty of confidence. My confidence is sky high. I just want to get a chance.”"
His attitude is right and the numbers are there.
If the Cardinals are going to make a move to shore up the bench and the infield, Chris Johnson may prove to be the perfect fit.