Yankees sign Dan Johnson to minor league deal

(Jason Miller/Getty)

(Jason Miller/Getty)

Spring Training is less than three weeks away and the Yankees still need a DH, bench help, and miscellaneous minor league depth. They brought in a player who might be able to satisfy any one of those needs on Thursday, signing corner infielder Dan Johnson to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training according to Sweeny Murti. Andrew Marchand says the deal is worth $900k at the big league level.

Johnson is probably best remembered by Yankees fans for his two-out, two-strike, game-tying homer off Cory Wade (video) in the ninth inning of Game 162 in 2011. He actually has a bit of a history when it comes to super-clutch late-season homers, including this 2008 shot against the Red Sox that helped keep the Rays in first place and this 2010 walk-off shot against Boston that kept Tampa tied atop the AL East. Johnson has been dubbed by the Great Pumpkin by the Rays faithful because he pops up once a year to do something awesome, so hooray for original nicknames.

Anyway, none of that really matters to the Yankees. Johnson, 33, is a career .237/.338/.412 (102 wRC+) hitter in over 1,550 career big league plate appearances, but most of that came during his time with the Athletics back in the day. Since landing with the Rays in 2008, he’s been a .185/.309/.379 (93 wRC+) hitter in a little less than 300 plate appearances. He had a very brief (eight games) stint with the White Sox last year and hit three homers in the final game of the season. Johnson’s career Triple-A numbers are gaudy: a .294/.408/.553 line with more walks (15.7%) than strikeouts (15.1%) in nearly 3,000 plate appearances. He also spent the 2009 season in Japan.

Defensively, Johnson fits best at first base or DH, but he can fill in at third in a real pinch. I’m talking an emergency, not once a week or anything. Since he doesn’t steal bases or offer any speed, he’s just a pure left-handed bat who needs a platoon partner. Given his pull-happy approach, Johnson could have some fun with the short porch in right field even though his homers have averaged over 380 feet over the last three years according to Hit Tracker. That’s pretty impressive. It’s also worth noting that he doesn’t strike out as much as guys with this profile tend to do (18.9 K% since 2008), so that’s cool.

At worst, Johnson will man first base for Triple-A Scranton — he was the International League MVP in 2011 — while at best he takes over as New York’s regular DH. In the middle, he serves as a defensively limited left-handed bat off the bench. The signing is similar to the Russell Branyan pick-up last year, except Johnson is younger and doesn’t have a history of back problems. The move won’t preclude the Yankees from signing another player to be their DH or fill out the bench.

Categories : Transactions


  1. William says:

    That’s all for Upton? Wow, Yankees could’ve have blown that away.

    • upstate yanks says:

      Agreed. Mike, any chance you could put together a quick comparison of what the equivalent trade package would look like if the Yanks had done this deal? (aka which of our prospects/roster matches up with what Atlanta gave up)

      • Blake says:

        Hard because the Yanks don’t have a player like Prado to offer …..The value would have had to be made up elsewhere and if Towers was simply wanting a 3B for 2013 the Yanks just don’t have one to offer

        • Jack P says:

          Prado hits free agency after this year, his value is only for teams that are looking to make a Championship run and Arizona certainly is not going to be that team, bewildered at what Towers is doing. And another SS prospect? We could have done better than this trade with our prospects, for sure.

          • Blake says:

            If he wanted prospects….but clearly he did not or he would have taken the Olt offer from Texas

          • Havok9120 says:

            You’re assuming that they were after raw talent as opposed to specific TYPES of talent. Our top prospects are outfielders, a catcher, hurt starters, a fast-moving reliever, and some second basemen that may or may not be anything. We do not have a ready-made 3B, a prospect SS (unless they want someone waaaaay down), or a Prado (maybe Granderson? No perfect match).

            “Here, take all these pieces that you don’t need,” is not a great position from which to pull off a trade.

          • RetroRob says:

            You’re missing the point. The Diamondbacks wanted Prado. The Yankees don’t have Prado (an equivalent for 3B) to give them.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      No, no they couldn’t have.

    • Greg says:

      with what? don’t have anyone on the MLB rester as good as Prado, nor any pitcher as good as Delgado.

  2. MB923 says:

    Why get Upton when you can get Dan Johnson!!

    • jjyank says:

      Because they’re not related in the slightest?

      • Jim Is Bored says:

        That right there is the single thing that irritates me most, among idiotic comments.

        It’s the idea that if the Yankees make a move in near proximity to another team making a move, it’s a “response”. Where does that idea come from? How can someone actually believe that?

    • Greg says:

      I thought it was a misprint – I thought we got DON Johnson, from Miami Vice. Always loved his white suit!

  3. MannyGeee says:

    Former Yankee Killer Dan Johnson? Huzzah!!!! $50 says Hughes cold cocks him in the eye by March 20.

  4. djyank says:

    power and patience off the bench. last year the yankees strayed from their normally patient approach. this move is welcomed by me

  5. Drew says:


    That is all.

  6. Greg says:

    He’ll look really good in a Scranton uni.

    • Magilla Gorilla Mama Called me Roy tho says:

      So, who do you have backing up Teixeira, backing up Youkilis and hitting lefty DH right now?

      Not to say that Dan Johnson is the answer, but right now there is no one better to fill those roles.

      • MB923 says:

        “So, who do you have backing up Teixeira, backing up Youkilis and hitting lefty DH right now? ”

        My only guess would be Nunez. If Tex needs rest, put Nunez at 3B and Youk at 1B.

        I’ve always liked his bat. But the kid cannot field. Even if he has little to no power, which is something most DH’s actually have, I don’t mind if he becomes the DH against LHP, though that might go to Diaz if he makes the 25 man roster.

  7. AMANDA says:

    braves get upton yanks get dan johnson eh

  8. LK says:

    I like this move – Johnson’s always seemed like he deserved more of a look in the majors. Barring another signing he should have a pretty decent shot of making the team.

  9. Magilla Gorilla Mama Called me Roy tho says:

    So Tampa will probably sign Luke Scott again. Dan Johnson has a chance to make the team.

    He backs up Teixera and Youkilis and can be the lefty part of a DH package. Right now, Youkilis does not have a lefty-hitting backup at 3B. Only Nix for now.

    Frees Nix to be more of a middle infielder. I suspect that Nix may be playing a lot of shortstop this year anyway.

    All he has to do is hit and field.

  10. Gonzo says:

    Let’s just get the season underway.

  11. John C says:

    Would have preferred Kelly Johnson.

    • Bob Buttons says:

      Hahahahahahaha no.

      Can’t hit for average, can’t field much and can’t make contact (not striking out).

    • FLYER7 says:

      Still could sign Kelly Johnson…at this point I’d line up all the minor league deals I could as non-roster spring training invites

  12. John C says:

    Yanks get Youkilis, Dbacks get Chavez eh!

  13. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Very nice low-risk signing. Entirely possible a guy like this can come close to what Hairston would have done for the team.

  14. Troll Hunter says:

    #28 here we come!

  15. Jack P says:

    When signing Dan Johnson is considered a “great move” even on a minor league contract, I have to sigh in disbelief of the current state of the Yankees. I guess George Kottaras would have been been put right in Monument Park. Getting excited over a player who hasn’t had more than 140 at-bats since 2007? Really now?

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      These types of moves will always be called “great” regardless of what else is going on. If this was ’98, and the Yankees would have secured solid depth with upside on an MiLB, it’d still be called “great.”

    • mitch says:

      Somebody’s gotta replace jack cust as the 30 year old 4A player who hits well in the minors and then gets released mid-season.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      You don’t have to stick around, you know.

      It’s a great move because it’s cheap and it can pay dividends. Signing CC Sabathia doesn’t happen every day. Even if George were still here.

      He’s busy rolling around though.

    • Havok9120 says:

      I’ll just leave this here:

      RAB Hivemind: The Yankees should be signing more depth and scrapheap guys and hope to catch lighting in a bottle,…..,,.!! I can’t believe they missed out on … [insert marginal player here].!!!1!one

      *Yankees sign marginal player*

      RAB Hivemind: I can’t believe that the Yankees,, the greatest franchise in sports, is having to rely on a scrub like this,…..what is Cashmen thinking?….. Hal is ruining the brand!! I hope he sells the team.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        The DeWayne Wise Principle.

        Wait until they DFA him after a few timely hits.

        • Dalek Jeter (formerly: Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM)) says:

          “I cannot believe they DFA’d Dan Johnson!!! He was on fire at the start of the seazson!! Sure he hasn’t done much of late but he had that GIGANTIC walk-off against the Astros last week!! God Cashman, you could’ve traded him for Strasburg easily!!!!!!!11!!!one!!!” -Jack P July 2nd, 2013

          • Pat D says:

            You didn’t tell me you could see the future!

          • jjyank says:

            Yeah, pretty much. It’s always amusing the reactions some people have about a minor league deal. For me, the spectrum goes from me thinking “oh, cool” and *shrug*.

            • jsbrendog says:

              for me it’s usually “holy crap, that guy still does stuff? whaddaya know. eh”

              • Robinson Tilapia says:

                Yeah. My reaction is always “hey, maybe there’s something there. If not, no big whoop.”

                We get the comments on here every damn day in which the person seems to think the only thing a front office does is BIG moves. All those folks are doing is showing how little they understand baseball.

                Didn’t there use to be a bouncer at the door in the old days for them?

                • jsbrendog says:

                  nope, haha the site was so small there were only like 8 of us that read it and commented on it. I’m super psyched for the guys with the success they’ve had and glad I ‘ve been around for it but there is the part of me that yearns for simpler times.

                  now get the hell off my damn lawn.

          • MannyGeee says:


      • Pat D says:

        The great thing about the hivemind is………

        ………I’m sorry, can anyone figure this out for me?

    • Ted Nelson says:

      It looks like a positive move because there is very little cost and the potential for some return.

      You could get a much better player than Johnson, but if he cost too much to acquire him it might not be a good move.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Also, Johnson hasn’t gotten PAs in MLB because he’s been in AAA. AAA is in the minor leagues. The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal. See where this is going? Johnson is a AAAA player. Perhaps he earns a spot on the bench or falls into one if others are injured/stink. There’s also a good chance that he’s just this year’s Juan Miranda, JoVo, Cust, Branyan, etc. AAA depth.

  16. trr says:

    there’s no issue with signing Johnson to a minor league deal, but this team has done nothing this winter except grown older…

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      Don’t worry though Ninja Cashman is still going to make a move lol

    • Ted Nelson says:

      And we all know that age, not talent or production, is the most important thing in baseball!!!

      • Captain's Gift Basket says:

        Age is related to production. Just sayin’

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          You’re right, but it’s not the only thing.

          Veteran teams CAN get it done.

          • Captain's Gift Basket says:

            Sure they can, the yankees usually do.

            But i think it’s 0k to be a little worried about how this team is built right now (not to mention 2014 an beyond), i know i am. I’m not about to jump any bridge, but i would’ve signed Martin and not Ichiro for starters… Stuff like that ya know?

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              Of course there’s reason for apprehension. I wouldn’t deny that one bit. There’s more unchartered waters here than there’s been in a while.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Production is loosely related to age. Smooth age curves are aggregate. There’s a ton of variability on an individual level.

          Risk increases at the ages that a lot of the Yankees age, but the response on this blog seems disproportionate to the risk.

    • MannyGeee says:

      in fairness, this team has gotten younger at the following positions: Catcher, LF (Gardner over Ibanez/Jones), 3B (Youk at 33 is younger than BOTH A-Rod and Chavez), setup man, and 5th starter (sans Sweaty Freddy).

      Be careful what you wish for.

  17. FLYER7 says:

    Johnson always hit well vs Yankees not just in 2011 or so it seems.

  18. ClayDavis says:

    Part of me wants to head up to the Bronx. See if the lights are even on.

  19. Gonzo says:

    107 comments on a Dan Johnson post. I think we are all ready for the season to start. Pitchers and catchers reporting can’t come soon enough.

  20. dasani says:

    Dan Johnson is last years version of Russell Bryanan.

  21. Austin Aunelowitzky says:

    Alfonso Soriano lives in the high rise one block east of mine (at least during the season he does.) I can confirm that as of now, there are no moving trucks ouside the building.

  22. Wayne says:

    If Atlanta wanted to trade this guy during regular season I would not do it. I just got a bad feeling about Justin upton! I know exactly who Atlanta would want, Rafael de Paula who I definitely would not give up!

    • Captain's Gift Basket says:

      Jeez this has to stop.

      Not that it’d happen in a million years, but if the braves would trade Upton for de Paula straight up, i’d fly from Madrid to Tampa, or wherever the hell de Paula is at the time, to drive him to the fucking airport.

      One thing is to know about, and complain about (and to try to avoid the mistakes) how the yankees used to just give young players away for washed up veterans back in the day, but this shit (not be willing to trade a guy like de Paula for a guy like Upton) is out of proportion.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I’d carry DePaula on my back to Arizona.

        In order of intensity of hug:

        Everyone else

  23. Wayne says:

    Dan Johnson could be our ibanez this year except he is six years younger!

  24. Dars says:

    I think the plan is to use Dan Johnson and Eduardo Nunez as a DH platoon. This will also allow to some days rest Tex, Jeter, Cano and Youkilis as a DH while Nunez and Johnson take the field.

    We have really taken a step back. I do not expect the Yankees to be in it in 2013. They do not have the firepower to even keep up with the Orioles. The Rays is only weaker offense in the division but they have perhaps better pitching than us…

    Sad, it was a good run but it has come to an end…

    • MannyGeee says:

      You really going with “not as good as the Orioles”? For real for real??

      • Captain's Gift Basket says:

        You know what? now i know why guys like you, Tilapia, jjyank, even Ted and other regulars get angry, and kinda rude and condesendent with some other non-regular posters who just come by and leave some crazy shit around here.

        Hell, i’m frustrated about the Yankees offseason, but there are some guys out there just being ridiculuos.

        • Captain's Gift Basket says:

          When you called them out on some shit in a rude way, making fun o them, calling them trolls, i used to say; “Wow that shit was uncalled for, this is a free world” but now i get it.

          • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

            Why not just ignore them though since the off the wall shit is pretty obvious? Way too many posts around here that say nothing other than calling people trolls.

            If they really are trolls, it plays right into their hands if you call them out on it. It doesn’t drive them away, it prompts them to just post some more off the wall shit.

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              It’s hard to tell initially, whether someone is a troll or not. And in this case, he used punctuation and grammar, which is usually a hallmark of a non-troll.

              I agree that we should educate rather than laugh at or ridicule, but honestly, it’s tiring saying the same shit over and over and over and over.

              At some point, if someone still doesn’t know that using only batting average to evaluate offense is outdated, there are plenty of other places for them to go to figure that out.

              And it’s the off-season, and I get bored waiting for code to compile at work, and sometimes troll-hunting is a good time waster. And sometimes I just want to bitch about stupid people. And you have the right to call me annoying. It’s a vicious cycle of free speech.

          • Gonzo says:

            I don’t know why people pile on when it’s exactly what the person wants. If the person was sincere, what are the odds that you solidified their opinion and totally blew a chance to educate someone? I rarely engage but if I engage, I’ll try to educate. If that doesn’t work, just ignore.

            Who cares if they think the Yankees will be in last place. Some people just view the world differently. What if some of their views are right? Who the f@#& knows. Who thought the Red Sox would be in last place last year?

          • jjyank says:

            At this point, I just do it for humor. I work in customer service currently, and if I didn’t talk smack about the stupid people I encounter on a daily basis, I’d go crazy. I don’t really care if I play into their hands or not. If someone says something dumb, I don’t mind calling them out on it. If some choose to ignore, that’s fine. But I dislike those that think doing that makes them better.

            We’re all either bored or frustrated, or both. And for the record, most of these people aren’t trolls. It’s a gross exaggeration to say that any of those throw that title directly at people on a regular basis.

            • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

              That’s your prerogative if you want to “call them out on it”, just don’t complain about them being around because engaging them only encourages their behavior.

              • jjyank says:

                Eh, there will always be trolls and stupid people whether I engage them or not.

                • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

                  Trolls =/= stupid people.

                  Trolls say stupid things to get a rise out of you. Stupid people are the ones who fall into their traps.

                  • jjyank says:

                    I didn’t say they were the same thing. That’s why I said trolls AND stupid people, because they are two seperate categories. You should know that I know better.

                    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

                      Sorry, bad reading comprehension today.

                      It’s just getting so tiresome with trolls, non trolls, pessimists, optimists. So much labeling and bickering going on coupled with the lack of activity from the Yankees.

                      The season can’t start soon enough.

                    • jjyank says:

                      I here you. And I apologize if I get confrontational at times. It’s just been a long, boring, frustrating offseason for everyone. We’re all chomping at the bit, so to speak.

              • Robinson Tilapia says:

                Jumping in a bit late.

                I’m not “troll-hunting” or out to call people out or whatever. Like jjyank said, it’s a diversion from administrative paperwork and the whatnot. Sometimes, like Ted often does, it’s an attempt to see if there’s anything deeper there.

                “Hunting,” though? Nah. I honestly don’t want to be considered as doing that.

        • MannyGeee says:

          If you’re putting me in the same company as jj, Tilapia and Ted…

          well, hell. I am flattered. I have been called worst and grouped with people I like and respect ALOT less. Thanks for that.

          Also, all I really said was, “Are we really going with ‘worse than the Orioles’”. Not positive that’s worth the firepower, but hey. swing away I guess.

          To the guy who may or may not have gotten butt-hurt by my comment, I will try to ask in a more comfortable manner:

          What make you think we are not as offensively charged as the Baltimore Orioles? Please respond as you see fit. Thank you and good day…


          • MannyGeee says:

            and as I re-read your comment, i realize you’re not being a dick… my bad!

            God I should either concentrate entirely on work or on this…

          • dars says:

            No doubt the Orioles have more firepower than we do…

            Chris Davis at DH better than the scrappieces we have, the difference between Matt Wieters and our backup catchers abysmal, not even worth a comment. JJ Hardy has a lot of power and certainly more than Jeter. Manny Machado is a top prospect and likely will have a come out year while we have an old fart on the decline. Adam Jones is superior to Granderson, Markakis will put better numbers than Ichiro and even McClouth/Reimold will outpace Gardner and Matt Diaz production. Cano and Tex are the only spots where we can expect better production. The Orioles even have Brian Roberts coming back and supposedly completely healthy.

            • Get Phelps Up says:

              The Orioles are bringing back the same exact team that barley had a positive run differential, and had historic records in 1 run games and extra innings. Don’t overthink this.

            • Herby says:

              Somebody in Roberts situation a bad slide could send him back to the disabled list, I don’t think you’ll ever see the same player again. It’s easy to proclaim this player will have this type of year, or that one a top prospect, but that’s why they play the games. Injuries, drop-offs. McClouth was basically not even in consideration at the start of last year, and this year Diaz is basically in the same situation.

  25. FLYER7 says:

    Could we still swing a deal with Dbacks for Prado since he’s a FA at end of season? Prado + for Grandy?

    • Travis L. says:

      They just got rid of an OF. They are using Prado at 3B. They wouldnt swap Prado for Grandy, that’d be like swapping Upton for Grandy.

      • Jacob The OG (formerly Jacob) says:

        I was just hanging out with Grandy the other day and I taught him to play 3B, I am sure the Dbacks would love the idea

  26. Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

    Opening day lineup of:


    Weaker than they’ve been in quite a few years especially at the bottom but I’m still thinking at least league average and probably in the top 3rd.

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      Minor nitpick, but since it’s against Lester, I think Jeter will lead off and Youk will hit 2nd. I would also hit Ichiro/Gardner 9th, as a “2nd leadoff man” so to speak.

  27. Travis L. says:

    Speaking of MiLB deals, anyone know anything about this RHP Chris Smith that was signed out of the Indie Leagues? He put up decent numbers there and in the Aussie Winter League (not sure if that’s a pitcher’s or hitter’s league though). Anyone have anything else about this guy?

  28. mustang says:

    Upset with today’s events and now we will see how many “fans” stay around when things get ugly. By the looks of things it could be ugly soon and for a while.

    PS. Tomorrow ticket plan owners can either upgrade or exchange their current seat assignment at the stadium. With today’s news ( the off season in general) and the cold weather I don’t think i’m going to have a problem getting better seats, but I’m not sure I want them.

    • jsbrendog says:

      yes you do. because youre still gonna go. and when they get real good again (i dont think theyll be bad, but some people’s expectations are astronimical) you’ll be glad you had the better seats through the lean years cause they’ll be impossible to get then.

      did that make sense? i hope so. i’m a mess haha

  29. EndlessJose says:

    Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon):

    Thats a lineup when Giardi wants to give some guys a day off.Thats not a 3 Billion team lineup.

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      It’s not a lineup that’s likely to lead the league in runs like they typically do but it’s not the Mariners offense either. I think it will be above average when all is said and done.

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      It’s not a lineup that’s likely to lead the league in runs like they typically do but it’s not the Mariners offense either. I think it will be above average when all is said and done.

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      What’s a 3 Billion team lineup?

  30. Hoss says:

    Man, after everybody was so pissed off about Kottaras I thought that this signing would have a calming effect. I guess that timing is everything. I am glad that the Upton deal came down after the Morse trade, because it would have really sucked if the Yankees overpaid for Morse.
    I do not understand the Hairston situation. I thought that he was choosing between the Yankees and Mets and he ends up with the Cubs? He would have been a good fit, and that’s a tough pill, because he’s better than any of the other righthanded possibilities at present.

    • MannyGeee says:

      However, there is a VERY real chance he starts 150 games in Chicago, and no chance he even sniffs that for the Yankees.

      Also, it was never confirmed that the finalists were the 2 New York teams. Even if it were just them, who’s to say Theo didn’t read MLBTR the same day you did and say, “Shit, he’s rather play here than for the Mets, right? I could probably make a move here” And as it turns out, he did…

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      “Everybody” wasn’t pissed off about Kotteras. If you look at the screen names posting in that thread, tell me how many you’ve seen on here more than a handful of times.

      The day I get pissed off over the Yankees not signing George Kotteras is the day……I probably need an extra nap.

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      I think more people are pissed about the putrid state of the catching position in general more than they’re pissed about not signing Kottaras.

      At this point, pretty much anyone not named Cervelli or Stewart looks pretty good.

  31. Get Phelps Up says:

    After seeing the number of comments here, I thought there would be much more grave-rolling.

    You disappoint me, RAB.

  32. Jim Cavanaugh says:

    I can live without making the move for Upton although of course i would have liked to see it … i understand this isn’t the business to make a move as a response or just for the sake of making one. What worries me is we still have guys like Andy & Mo here who are very possibly entering their final years as players & salary cap or not i don’t see the Yankees doing enough to step up to their competition after a nightmareish exit last season where the team looked horrible.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      That nightmarish exit came in the ALCS. They were one of the final four teams left.

      • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

        They did get to the final 4 but they were swept while getting outscored 19-6 runs in 4 games against Detroit after scoring 9 runs in the last 4 games of the Baltimore series that they were fortunate to win so it’s not like they were on the verge of making the WS.

  33. RetroRob says:

    Dan Johnson signing a minor league deal generates 175+ comments and counting.

    Yankee Universe needs news!

    • Herby says:

      Or the start of Spring Training…you can tell it’s getting to be a long off season when it get this much attention.

  34. Jim Cavanaugh says:

    I know. I watched practically every game of the 162 game schedule. I just look at that series as more than just a 4 game example of this team, that’s all.

  35. Gonzo says:

    C’mon guys and gals. We are so close to doubling up the Upton thread.