For the past couple weeks, the Tampa Bay Rays have operated with a unique 43-man roster.
News of the signing of INF Kelly Johnson and the return of DH Luke Scott and RHP Kyle Farnsworth meant that three roster moves were required before the signings could become official. Loathe to lose talent for nothing, the club waited as long as possible to make a move, holding on to their assets in hopes of finding a trade partner or something of value. However, the other shoe dropped Tuesday, as both INF Elliot Johnson and INF Reid Brignac were designated for assignment, significantly thinning the glut of middle-infielders that occupied the Rays 40-man roster.
The team has 10 days to trade, release or pass both through waivers at which point they can be reassigned elsewhere in the organization. The likelihood of one or both being claimed is high, and Johnson has the right to decline reassignment to AAA Durham and become a free agent if he chooses.
Johnson spent the majority of the past two seasons at the big league level, where he was a valuable role player, filling in for the injured Longoria and playing 123 games in 2012. While his defense was often criticized he proved serviceable in a utility role, playing all across the diamond, but at the plate he was merely replacement level, offering not enough upside to counter his mediocre defense. The addition of Yunel Escobar to man short, and Kelly Johnson (plus Ryan Roberts and Sean Rodriguez) in the infield left no room for Johnson. His failed sacrifice bunts will be surely missed.
It is a bizarre reality in which Johnson's name comes first in this headline.
That Brignac was not able to succeed at the big league level is a shocking reminder of the volatility of prospects in baseball. Once a hallowed name in the Rays farm system along side the likes of Longoria, Brignac was a future star; ranked as high as the 17th best prospect in MLB by Baseball America in 2007.
Brignac flashed that potential in limited action during the 2010 season, posting 1.5 WAR while splitting time at shortstop with Jason Bartlett. However, Brignac stumbled after being named the starting shortstop for 2011, posting just a 24 wRC+ before being demoted after 92 games. His slick glove work could never make up for an dramatic uppercut swing and a lack of plate discipline. Brignac appeared in just 16 games for the Rays in 2012 as it was apparent the club had given up on the Cajun left-hander.
The team still has one more move to make to accomidate the return of designated hitter Luke Scott.
- Farnsworth's deal for 2013 is for $1.25 million with an additional ~$1.25 million in possible incentives. Farnsworth indicated that he had multiple offers for his services but that being close to home played a factor in his decision to stay with the Rays.
- Kelly Johnson's deal for 2013 comes in at $2.45 million, a hefty reduction from the $6.375 million he made with Toronto in 2012. Johnson should provide more pop while filling a utility role.
- Six Rays prospects made ESPN's Keith Law's top 100 prospects list, with fresh-face Wil Myers topping the list at number 4. Also making the list are Taylor Guerrieri (47), Chris Archer (53), Jake Ordorizzi (68), Alex Colome (81) and Hak-Ju Lee who dropped all the way to 78 after being ranked 12th last year.
- Evan Longoria is featured in an EPSN photo series that recreates famous album covers. The Buccaneers' QB Josh Freeman is also featured, recreating Michael Jackson's Thriller cover.
- Ryan Braun is having to face more PED-related allegations after Tim Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports uncovered Brauns name in the records kept by Miami-based anti-aging/PED distribution clinic, Biogenesis. Braun's name is not listed in association with any specific PED and Braun is claiming that he merely used clinic head Anthony Bosch as a consultant during his appeal of a positive test.