The Rays announced they have signed 1B Dan Johnson to a one-year deal worth $500,000. Almost a year to the date after selling Johnson's contract to the Yokohama BayStars of the Japanese Central League, the Rays are not only bringing him back to the states, but on a Major League Contract. For his MLB career, Johnson has been league average hitter with decent power from the left side. He is/was a decent defender at first base and did play one game for the Rays in 2008 out in left field.
As Rays fans, we remember Dan Johnson best for his pinch-hit, game-tying home run in the ninth inning off of Jonathan Papelbon back in September of 2008. I'm all for improving the teams depth, and first base is a thin position in the organization; however, the guaranteed Major League deal strikes me as odd with the Rays already having Willy Aybar backing up Carlos Pena at the position.
All along we have assumed that Sean Rodriguez or Reid Brignac would join Willy Aybar in backing up the infield with Gabe Kapler as the fourth outfielder. Dioner Navarro remains the back-up catcher for the moment. As it stands right now, Kapler. Navarro, Aybar and Johnson would look like the front runners for the bench given their contract/option status. Aybar has filled in a second base, but is not really a middle infielder. There would seem to be a missing side of the equation here since carrying Johnson and Aybar seems a bit redundant. Your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen, but the bench just got a bit crowded.