The 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.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.