Nationals sign outfielder Johnson to Minor League deal

Nationals sign outfielder Johnson to Minor League deal

JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo stayed busy on Monday, signing outfielder Reed Johnson to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Johnson will report to Nationals camp on Tuesday. If he makes the Major League team out of Spring Training, Johnson could earn $1 million, according to a baseball source.

The deal with Johnson came on the same day the Nats acquired outfielder Matt den Dekker from the Mets for reliever Jerry Blevins.

Johnson, 38, was released by the Marlins on Monday morning, but quickly found a home with Washington. He brings a veteran presence and solid defense to a team that is having problems catching the ball this spring.

"Being a veteran player, winning becomes very important. I think that's the easiest part of it," Johnson said via telephone. "The Nationals have a track record the last few years of playing some good baseball. That's attractive to any player, especially a veteran player like me."

Johnson talked to Rizzo on Monday, but he doesn't know what his role will be yet. Johnson will be reunited with left fielder Jayson Werth. They played together in the Blue Jays organization.

The Nationals are dealing with a lot of injuries this spring. Werth and Denard Span are expected to start the season on the disabled list. If Johnson makes the team, he could see some time off the bench.

A 12-year veteran, Johnson hit .235 with two home runs and 25 RBIs for the Marlins last season. As a pinch-hitter, he hit .239 with a homer and 12 RBIs. During his career, Johnson has a .276 batting average with six home runs and 40 RBIs as a pinch-hitter.

With Johnson and den Dekker on board, one has to wonder about the status of Clint Robinson and Tony Gwynn Jr. Both players are on Minor League contracts and have been productive on offense this spring.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.