SAN DIEGO -- Kelly Johnson had mixed emotions when he learned early Wednesday morning that the Braves had traded him to the Mets for a second straight season. His departure from the team that nurtured his early development creates an opportunity for him to be reintroduced to a group of guys with which he shared a trip to last year's World Series.
The Braves traded Johnson to the Mets in exchange for Akeel Morris, a 23-year-old pitcher who ranked as New York's 16th-best prospect, per MLBPipeline.com. While Morris will be assigned to Double-A Mississippi, Johnson will now attempt to strengthen the Mets' bench in the same manner he did during last season's final two months.
"It's an ideal move for me, because I was with the Mets last year," Johnson said. "It's exciting, and hopefully we can go one step further this year."
The Mets began their surge toward a National League East title and the World Series after acquiring Johnson and Juan Uribe from the Braves on July 23. Atlanta received two pitching prospects -- John Gant and Rob Whalen -- in that deal. Now, the Braves hope to gain some value from Morris, who has posted a 4.62 ERA while recording 36 strikeouts and issuing 16 walks over 25 1/3 innings for Double-A Binghamton this season.
Morris has posted a 2.91 ERA and recorded 12 strikeouts per nine innings while totaling 303 innings over seven Minor League seasons, which have been primarily spent as a reliever. He allowed five earned runs and recorded just two outs when he made his only Major League appearance during a June 17 game against the Blue Jays last season.
When Johnson re-signed with the Braves in January, he laughed whenever he heard fans or even teammates joke that he would eventually be traded back to the Mets this year. But really, he simply was looking forward to the opportunity help the Braves move along in their rebuilding process while having the opportunity to remain close to his wife and children, who live in Atlanta.
"I don't think Kelly wanted to leave, because he was home with his family," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "But if he has to go somewhere, I'm glad he's going to a team that is familiar with him and wants him. It's a great opportunity for him."
Though Johnson has continued to serve as valuable clubhouse member, he has not been as productive as he was last season, when he hit .265 with 14 home runs and a .772 OPS. He hit .215 with one homer and a .562 OPS in 132 plate appearances for the Braves this season.
Johnson began his professional career with the Braves in 2000 and made his Major League debut in 2005. He remained with Atlanta through the end of 2009, and then returned last year.
"I'll always pull for the Braves to become exciting and successful again," Johnson said. "I'll miss all the guys on the team, and the coaches. I hope they all get hot, rip off a huge winning streak and have fun doing it again soon, except when I'm across the field."
A notable player who was traded to the same team in successive years was Ron Hassey, a catcher who was traded by the Yankees to the White Sox in December 1985 and July 1986. In between, the Yankees reacquired him from the White Sox in February 1986.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.