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Wednesday February 16, 2011 1:57 am

D-Backs avoid arbitration with Kelly Johnson

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Kelly JohnsonThe Arizona Diamondbacks and Kelly Johnson avoided having an arbitration hearing when the two sides agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.85 million, slightly lower than the $6.5 million Johnson was hoping for, but still a hefty increase from his $2.35 contract last season. For now, Johnson and the D-Backs can focus on rebuilding the team that has taken less than a decade to fall from World Series champions to worst in the NL West.

Arizona acquired Johnson when he was non-tendered by the Braves after a down year in 2009. He turned things around in the following season, leading Arizona hitters and finishing in the top five in several offensive categories. Johnson had 166 hits in 585 at bats for a .284 average as well as a .496 slugging percentage. He hit 26 home runs and 36 doubles and added 71 RBI and scored 93 runs of his own.

The contract is actually quite a large one by Diamondback standards. Team CEO Derrick Hall has said that he expects his team’s payroll to be between $60-65 million, instantly making Johnson one of the team’s highest-paid players. At 28-years-old, it’s a fitting number for a guy entering the best years of his career. If he can duplicate his 2010 successes this season, he’ll command an even greater contract for 2012, perhaps with a better team.

Johnson it’s going to save the Diamondbacks, but he might help them save face. Other basement dwellers like Washington and Pittsburgh added a bunch of young pieces to their respective rosters. Arizona should do the same and soon. The next step is trying to hammer out a long-term deal with Johnson. For now, his signing leaves just four others up for the arbitration (Jose Bautista, Hunter Pence, Rickie Weeks, Delmon Young). Baseball is almost here.



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