Johnson solidifies Marlins' infield

July, 31, 2009

The Florida Marlins picked up Nick Johnson from the Washington Nationals for Double-A pitcher Aaron Thompson, which is an underrated move. Johnson hasn't hit for power this season, but at least he's been on the field for most of his team's games. Injuries, you see, have been quite the problem for Johnson. He is hitting .295 with an on-base percentage over .400, which means he's a lot more valuable to a major league lineup than Emilio Bonifacio, who runs like the wind but can't get on base, doesn't have power and is not a good third baseman.

Expect the Marlins to move Jorge Cantu to third base, and Johnson to hit near the top of the Florida batting order and get on base quite a bit. If you own Bonifacio, tough luck, but his playing time should have been cut months ago. Johnson is owned in only 17 percent of ESPN standard mixed leagues, and if you didn't want him before, not much changes after this trade.

Washington can move Adam Dunn to first base, where he probably can't hurt the team and its pitchers as much as when he was in the outfield, so that's good news. The Nationals should promote Elijah Dukes from Triple-A Syracuse and see whether they've got a part of their future in place. Dukes is hitting .288 for the Chiefs with three home runs and five stolen bases in 19 games. Nyjer Morgan and Josh Willingham are playing every day in the Washington outfield, and maybe Austin Kearns or Willie Harris get to play more, but you might not even notice.

That was one of two deals the Nationals made Friday. The Rockies helped pick apart the Washington carcass by giving up minor leaguer pitchers Ryan Mattheus and Robinson Fabian to get lefty reliever Joe Beimel. Once upon a time, Beimel was named by former Nationals manager Manny Acta as next in line to close, but that never happened. The Rockies have one of the best closers right now in Huston Street, and Beimel will help newly acquired Rafael Betancourt in a set-up role. There's no fantasy value here on the Colorado or Washington side.

Eric Karabell | email

ESPN Senior Writer



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?