MLB News: Indians bring in more spring depth, sign Elliot Johnson

elliot johnson bravesThe Indians added some extra infield competition by signing Elliot Johnson to a minor league deal on Monday.

Johnson, who turns 30 in March, also received an invite to big league spring training. He has appeared in 234 games the past two MLB seasons, primarily at second base and shortstop. He only has a career .218/.273/.319 hitting line in 806 plate appearances. A long-time member of the Tampa Bay Rays organization, he played in 2013 with Kansas City and Atlanta.

With Lonnie Chisenhall on the hot seat at third base and Mike Aviles the lone versatile backup option, it’s been a busy offseason for the Indians and utility infielders. Of course, the big story is Carlos Santana preparing for regular third-base duty. But other moves could have an impact as well.

Back in December, Cleveland signed 26-year-old infielder David Adams away from the Yankees organization. He played mostly third base in 43 MLB games last year, but was a second baseman in the minors. A third-rounder back in 2008, he had some fairly decent minor league hitting stats. He was added to the 40-man roster.

On Nov. 1, they also re-signed Ryan Rohlinger to a minor league deal. After playing 108 games in Double-A Akron in 2012, he then hit a decent .266/.354/.367 in 92 games for Triple-A Columbus last season. The 30-year-old has 46 career games of MLB experience, none since a one-game stint in 2011. His experience is mostly at third and short.

Other position player invites include catchers Matt Treanor and Luke Carlin, and outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Nyjer Morgan. These are all low-risk deals that most likely are just designed to help with Triple-A depth, at best. But if any of these guys somehow catch fire out in Arizona, they could force their way into the 25-man roster conversation.

[Related: Carlos Santana moving to third base, Chris Antonetti looking for free agents: Thursday Tribe Notes]

Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Does anyone (mgbode or Steve) know what the largest number of minor league contracts given by an MLB team in an off-season is? The Indians have to be close if not past it I’d think. Just curious.

  • left out

    it’s pretty sad that we have to make all of these minor deals to make up for the barren desert that is our pathetic farm system

  • Kildawg

    I can see Johnson pushing Jose Ramirez and Cabrera both (although the latter can be traded to a team that needs an affordable middle infielder with a decent bat), and I would be fine with seeing Aviles at SS full time until Lindor is ready sometime next year. Santana will be pushing Chisenhall hard at 3B, making the latter tantalizing trade bait as well.

  • Kildawg

    This is what most teams actually have to do, it’s called trying to find a diamond in the rough. Not everybody can buy players like New York (especially the Evil Empire), Boston, LA (both), Chicago (both to an extent), Dallas (they bought Darvish and Choo the last 2 offseasons plus handed out the first mega contract to A-Roid), Detroit, and now Seattle.

  • Ed Carroll

    Doubt they keep stats for this and no, this year’s Indians would be nowhere close to this “record.”

  • Ed Carroll

    Not at all. This is completely standard for an MLB team. Also, team’s best prospects are middle infielders. This is just due diligence.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I know all that I was simply interested in knowing how many of these contracts the Indians have offered as opposed to other teams.

  • Ed Carroll

    No idea but I doubt it’s disproportionate. Usually teams give out more in “bad” years (like in 2010, when everyone and their mother got a ST invite).

  • Joseph Devito

    You can see Johnson pushing someone for playing time? Are you kidding? He can’t hit. Have you seen his stats? Just what we need, another guy who can’t hit.