Mets Sign Rob Johnson to Minor League Deal


Just to make sure you fans out there couldn’t be more depressed about the Mets catching situation, the team went out and signed a career .197/.275/.297 guy in Rob Johnson to compete for backup duties in Spring Training. However, don’t let this contract fool you–Mike Nickeas, who swatted a .189/.246/.264 line in 2011–is still the favorite to understudy Josh Thole.

To Johnson’s credit, the 28 year-old enjoyed a far more successful career in the Minor Leagues than his various cups of Major League coffee. Drafted in the 4th round of the 2004 draft by the Seattle Mariners, the catcher exhibited significant promise in his first full Minor League season. In 2005, between two Single-A levels, Johnson posted a .280/.332/.432 line with 11 HR, 63 RBI, 56 R, and 12 SB in 421 PA’s.

The Mariners, who were very confident in Johnson’s abilities, promoted the young catcher to Triple-A. His stats suffered, swatting just a .231/.261/.318 line with 4 HR, 33 RBI, 28 R, and 14 SB in 359 PA’s. Despite the disappointing season, the Mariners still started Johnson at Triple-A the following season (2007), where he posted an improved .268/.331/.372 line in 465 PA’s. The 2007 season also marked the catcher’s first taste of the big leagues (3 PA’s).

Johnson got more used to advanced pitching in 2008, owning a respectable .305/.363/.441 clip in 463 PA’s, including 9 HR and 30 2B, but he didn’t impress in the Majors when he got the call (.213/.289/.326 line in 31 PA’s). With two solid seasons at Triple-A under his belt, the Mariners decided to promote Johnson to backup duties in 2009. The 25 year-old hit to the tune of a .213/.289/.326 line in 290 PA’s, but also gunned 31% of baserunners. Mariners pitchers also seemed to enjoy throwing to Johnson, as they collective hurled a 3.22 ERA with the backstop.

In 2010, the Mariners decided to give the starting catcher duties to prospect Adam Moore, yet even though the promising youngster posted just a .195/.230/.283 line in 218 PA’s, Rob Johnson still couldn’t steal the gig (.191/.293/.281 line in 209 PA’s). After the season, the Mariners had obviously seen enough of the light-hitting backstop, and sent him to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later or cash. Johnson posted an identical .190/.259/.285 line in 199 PA’s as he did in 2010, and also continued to be a solid defensive option (5 passed balls, 23% CS%, and 3.22 ERA).

Looking ahead to 2012, despite Johnson’s experience in the Major Leagues, it still looks as though the New York Mets favor Mike Nickeas as the second fiddle to Josh Thole. Neither Nickeas nor Johnson pose much of a threat to Thole’s playing time–a commodity most Mets fans were hoping the backup catcher would encompass–but as a pure depth move, having Johnson catch games in Triple-A doesn’t seem to harm anybody.

Tags: Adam Moore Ben Berkon Josh Thole Mets Mets Sign Rob Johnson Mike Nickeas New York New York Mets Rising Apple Rob Johnson

  • EdwardHoyt

    There’s nothing depressing about Johnson if you’re looking at it with the perspective you offered after your misleading lede. Secruring non -roster invitees with undistinguished big-league résumés are part of every offseason. Particularly at catcher. By March, there’ll be hundreds of them in camps in Arizona and Florida.Welcome, Rob Johnson. Best of luck.

  • risingapple

    I have no issue with inviting Johnson to ST, but both he and Nickeas as potential backups IS depressing. The team needed a guy like Shoppach, but apparently $1.35 million for an excellent backup catcher is too rich for the Wilpons.

    I hope that RJ channels his Minor League self in 2012, but that’s seems unlikely given his stints in the bigs. @EdwardHoyt

  • EdwardHoyt

    There’s nothing depressing about Johnson if you’re looking at it with the perspective you offered after your misleading lede. Secruring non -roster invitees with undistinguished big-league résumés are part of every offseason. Particularly at catcher. By March, there’ll be hundreds of them in camps in Arizona and Florida.Welcome, Rob Johnson. Best of luck.

  • EdwardHoyt

    You’re depressed about a non-guaranteed minor-league deal to a guy hitting .190 / .259 / .285 // .544. But Shoppach would be guaranteed big league money to .176 / .268 /.339 // .607 in more trips to the plate. Scant improvement and a poor way to invest dwindling resources, I think.And there are other guys in the mix as backups, including Lucas May and Vinny Rottino.

  • risingapple

    I have no issue with inviting Johnson to ST, but both he and Nickeas as potential backups IS depressing. The team needed a guy like Shoppach, but apparently $1.35 million for an excellent backup catcher is too rich for the Wilpons.

    I hope that RJ channels his Minor League self in 2012, but that’s seems unlikely given his stints in the bigs. @EdwardHoyt

  • EdwardHoyt

    I wouldn’t worry much about Shoppach. You’re depressed about a minor leaguer who hit .190 / .259 / .285 // .544. But Shoppach hit .176 / .268 / .339 // .607 in more trips to the plate. And his team paid $3,000,000 for the honor. And he would, of course, have no options. And he’s at the butt end of his career.That seems to me a scant improvement in choices to give a guy a guaranteed major league salary over. Good luck to him playing for Bobby Valentine, but he would seem to me to be a poor use of dwindling resources.The Mets also have other options in the mix, including Lucas May and Vinny Rottino. If nothing else, we’d have the novelty of two Lucases on the team.I imagine that it’s the dwindling resources that are the real issue. But let’s not open up a new vein that every time some shnook gets a minor league deal. @risingapple

  • EdwardHoyt

    You’re depressed about a non-guaranteed minor-league deal to a guy hitting .190 / .259 / .285 // .544. But Shoppach would be guaranteed big league money to .176 / .268 /.339 // .607 in more trips to the plate. Scant improvement and a poor way to invest dwindling resources, I think.And there are other guys in the mix as backups, including Lucas May and Vinny Rottino.

  • EdwardHoyt

    I wouldn’t worry much about Shoppach. You’re depressed about a minor leaguer who hit .190 / .259 / .285 // .544. But Shoppach hit .176 / .268 / .339 // .607 in more trips to the plate. And his team paid $3,000,000 for the honor. And he would, of course, have no options. And he’s at the butt end of his career.That seems to me a scant improvement in choices to give a guy a guaranteed major league salary over. Good luck to him playing for Bobby Valentine, but he would seem to me to be a poor use of dwindling resources.The Mets also have other options in the mix, including Lucas May and Vinny Rottino. If nothing else, we’d have the novelty of two Lucases on the team.I imagine that it’s the dwindling resources that are the real issue. But let’s not open up a new vein that every time some shnook gets a minor league deal. @risingapple

  • risingapple

    He also had an extremely unlucky .212 BABIP. Don’t forget that he led the league with a 41% CS%. He would have been the perfect backup to push Thole, and for $1.35 million, that’s money well spent. @EdwardHoyt

  • risingapple

    He also had an extremely unlucky .212 BABIP. Don’t forget that he led the league with a 41% CS%. He would have been the perfect backup to push Thole, and for $1.35 million, that’s money well spent. @EdwardHoyt

  • EdwardHoyt

    Oh, dear. @risingapple

  • EdwardHoyt

    Oh, dear. @risingapple