Earlier today, reports sprang up that the Atlanta Braves and third baseman Chris Johnson had agreed to a three-year contract extension. Just recently, Braves beat writer David O’Brien confirmed those reports:
source confirmed extension for Chris Johnson, who joins Simmons, Kimbrel, Teheran and Freeman to get extensions this spring
— David O’Brien (@ajcbraves) May 1, 2014
With this, General Manager Frank Wren continues his player extension marathon and presumably gives the team a starting third baseman for the next few years.
As reported first by Ken Rosenthal, this deal buys out Johnson’s final two years of arbitration as well as one year of free agency, and possibly two depending on whether or not the fourth-year team option is picked up. Despite early struggles this year, Johnson was a fantastic pick-up for the Braves coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks along with Justin Upton.
Last year he finished with the second-highest average in the National League and finished the year with a .321/.358/.457 line thanks to a hefty .394 BABIP. So far this season, he is hitting .231/.260/.330 with a BABIP of .303. Johnson is one of the older players to be given an extension from the team (he’ll be turning 30 later this year) and that alone made this deal a bit surprising for me.
But, the Braves don’t exactly have a third baseman in the minors who is threatening to jump to the majors anytime soon, and Johnson has proven that he can be a difference maker in the lineup. It will be interesting to see how he continues to hit this season however because his glove is certainly not the reason he’s out on the field every day.