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[Update] Marc Topkin reports that the deal is worth $500K and suggests that Johnson still has a minor league option that would allow the Rays to send Johnson to triple-A.

[1:33pm]The Rays have re-signed Dan Johnson to a one-year big league contract according to a team press release. Although he only played 10 games for the Rays in 2008, he hit the biggest home run in franchise history.

On September 9, 2008, the Rays began a series in Boston. The Rays had lost four in a row and their lead in the AL east was down to a half-game. Johnson began the day in triple-A before being called up for the Red Sox series. His first at bat with the Rays was a pinch-hit home run in the 9th inning to tie the game and possibly save the Rays season.

The immediate question is how this affects the Rays 2010 roster. If Johnson is in the big leagues and assuming the Rays use a platoon in right field, three of the Rays four bench spots will go to Dioner Navarro, Gabe Kapler and Willy Aybar. If Johnson is the fourth player on the bench, that leaves Aybar (or Ben Zobrist) as the backup shortstop. Aybar has only played two games at shortstop in the big leagues and none since 2008. It also means Sean Rodriguez will start the season in triple-A.

The other possibility is that Matt Joyce proves in spring training that he is ready to be an everyday big leaguer. If that happens, the Rays could cut ties with Kapler and keep both Johnson and Rodriguez on the bench with Zobrist and Rodriguez as the backup outfielders.

Johnson spent the 2009 season in Japan where he hit .215-24-57 for the Yokohama BayStars.

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3 Comments

  1. GatorRaysHead says:

    Welcome back Home Run Dan.

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  2. So the Rays sign a backup first baseman one day after their other backup first baseman has his winter season cut short by a wrist injury.

    Gotta be a coincidence, right?

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    • Chris says:

      What I'm wondering is why Aybar was playing winter ball at all? Some hometown connection to the team? Doesn't make sense that he was playing for the money. If Johnson has developed as a third baseman, that reinforces speculation that this is a relatively inexpensive backup at the corners. Really not much depth at the either 3rd or 1st down through the system. Now there's both Dillon and Johnson (assuming he takes assigment to the Bulls).

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