D-backs interested in Kelly Johnson
The players non-tendered this past weekend has expanded the pool of players available in the free agent market, a good thing for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“It just presents more choices,” D-backs GM Josh Byrnes said. “We’ll certainly factor a few of these guys in as we continue to put together our team.”
Byrnes declined to get into specifics as to which players were of interest to the D-backs, but here’s a look at the four that likely will draw their attention:
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Johnson is a guy that the D-backs have had on-again, off-again discussions with the Braves about since Byrnes has been the GM. Of all the players available is the best fit for the D-backs and is the guy they likely have the most interest in.
A left-handed hitter, Johnson has actually hit better against lefties than he has against righties in his career. He did not post great numbers last year, but if you look at some advanced metrics like batting average on balls put in play, there is some reason to believe he is an excellent candidate for a rebound season.
Johnson is not great defensively at second lacking in range, but if he does indeed bounce back offensively he could make up for that. He could also play the corner outfield positions if need be so he adds some flexibility.
IHe’s a guy the D-backs will aggressively pursue. If they get him, he could wind up supplanting Tony Abreu at second and they could end up dealing Augie Ojeda. The club found out during the Winter Meetings that there is plenty of interest in Ojeda. It’s also possible they could hang onto Ojeda initially and start Abreu in Triple-A.
Randy Winn, OF
One of the pieces the D-backs were looking for this offseason was a veteran player, who could provide some leadership in the clubhouse. Winn fits that bill. He also is a switch-hitter, who would give the D-backs an option in left should Conor Jackson play mostly at first base.
Again, Winn brings versatility to the roster in that he can play all three outfield positions, plus he also adds some athleticism.
Winn is likely looking for a place where he can start so that might not make it a good fit, but he definitely is a guy on the Arizona radar.
Matt Capps, RHP
Any team looking for bullpen help is likely to be interested in Capps. Just how interested Arizona will be remains to be seen.
The D-backs are content with Chad Qualls as their closer and I’m not sure that Capps would be considered a big enough upgrade to disrupt that. It would seem the price would have to be very favorable to have that happen.
Ryan Church, OF
Not sure the level of interest here, but he’s a guy that plays all three outfield positions and again is a veteran type who would be valuable coming off the bench, but also could play left if Jackson has to play a lot of first.
I think he would be down on the list, certainly behind Winn, but he’s a guy the D-backs are keeping an eye on.
As for others like Chien-Ming Wang, D.J. Carrasco or Ryan Garko, I do not think the D-backs would have any interest.
Whichever way they decide to go, there should be some movement in the market sooner rather than later now that the big fish on the pitching market — John Lackey and Roy Halladay — have found homes and the non-tenders have been, well non-tendered.
“I think the pace will probably quicken here in the next couple of weeks,” Byrnes said.
(follow me on Twitter: @dbackswriter)