Close the book on the Wil Myers trade. After designating him for assignment last week, the Tampa Bay Rays sent infielder Elliot Johnson to the Royals as the player to be named later in the James Shields deal.
The Royals have been vocal about wanting a shortstop option to backup Alcides Escobar should he get hurt, and Johnson has spent the majority of his time there as a big leaguer. He can also play second base, third base and has played in the outfield before.
He’s a switch hitter who hasn’t hit at the big league level, but he’s been better than replacement level in his time the last two seasons. At 28 (he’ll turn 29 in a month), Johnson doesn’t offer a lot of upside, but he’s worthy of a bench spot. To add to his fielding versatility, he’s a switch-hitter who’s better from the left side.
Johnson has shown some power in the minors, can take a walk on occasion, but has struck out a quarter of the time as a big leaguer. He stole 18 bases last year in 24 attempts (after reaching base 99 times), so there’s some speed here as well. Already the speculation creeps in – will he be in the mix for the starting second base job? Does he make the team over Miguel Tejada? WITH Tejada? What about Johnny Giavotella? What about Irving Falu? (Likely done, as Dave Lesky suggests and I’d tend to agree.)
What’s interesting is that feasibly Reid Brignac could have been an option as the PTBNL and the Royals passed on him. As we’ve covered previously, Brignac was a long-time top prospect in the Rays organization but hasn’t hit over the past two seasons. Tampa may not have made him available (but after designating him, I don’t think that’d be the case) or, most likely, the Royals didn’t trust his bat to come around.
To make room on the 40 man roster, the Royals moved Felipe Paulino to the 60 day disabled list. He’s eligible to come off on June 1, but after Tommy John Surgery last July, he’ll probably still have another month at least at that point until he’s ready to return.