Is Kelly Johnson on his way out of Arizona?
The Diamondbacks made several offseason moves to improve their roster with the goal of improving upon their terrible 2009 season. Well, today, they have begun to clean house after their 26-39 start and 11.5 game deficit in the NL West. They traded disappointing outfielder Conor Jackson to the Athletics for minor league reliever Samuel Demel.
Jackson goes to the A's and will start everyday in left field to help add some pop to a bad lineup. The Diamondbacks will hand the left field job to Gerardo Parra for the time being. Parra is more of a 4th outfielder type rather than a starter, but he can hit for a solid BA as evidenced by his 2009 slash line of .290-.324-.404 with 5 HRs, 60 RBIs and 5 SBs.
In return for Jackson, the Diamondbacks get AAA closer Samuel Demel who will be added to the horrific Arizona bullpen, and could close at some point. For now, the closer responsibilities have been handed over to Aaron Heilman while Chad Qualls works through his issues.
So who will be traded next? As I stated to a fellow UBA league owner on Tuesday, I think the Diamondbacks will be looking to deal second baseman Kelly Johnson. Johnson has had a very good bounceback season this year, going 13-33-5-.277-.380-.537. He is on a one year $2.35 million contract after being non-tendered by the Braves in the offseason.
Who needs a second baseman. Like I told the UBA owner, the Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers and Braves could look to add Johnson. The Mets could look to improve upon Luis Castillo at second base and Johnson could provide some pop to their lineup. The same can be said for the Cardinals with Skip Schumaker and the Rockies with Clint Barmes at second base. The Dodgers may sit tight with Blake Dewitt at second base, but a deal for Johnson would allow the Dodgers to give more rest to current third baseman Casey Blake, as Dewitt can play third base as well.
Should the Diamondbacks deal Johnson, they can plug infielder Tony Abreu at second base. Abreu doesn't have the power that KJ has, but has a good bad and can provide a solid BA for fantasy owners. Actually, Abreu and Parra are very similar hitters, providing little more than a solid BA for fantasy owners.
The assumption is that the DBacks will be looking for major league ready prospects in any deal they make this season. Should Johnson get dealt, the next in line would be first baseman Adam Laroche and apparently they will listen to offers for starter Dan Haren.
Putting Haren on the market would not surprise me as it appears the Diamondbacks are in cost cutting mode and Haren has one of the bigger contracts on the Arizona roster. Haren is owed $12.75 million in 2011 and 2012, with a $15.5 million club option in 2013, with a $3.5 million buyout. Arizona could shore up their farm system by putting Haren on the market, and I am sure many teams will have interest, even with two years remaining on his contract.