Blue Jays outright Munenori Kawasaki, Dan Johnson to Buffalo


Toronto Blue Jays fans have taken a severe liking to infielder Munenori Kawasaki during his two years with the organization. While the club shares many of those feelings, the team’s attachment only stretches so far, as we found out on Tuesday.

According to the team’s transaction page, the Blue Jays have optioned Kawasaki and fellow veteran Dan Johnson to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. It is more of a procedural move than anything, as the club would likely try to keep them within the organization, as SportsNet’s Mike Wilner pointed out on Twitter.

The move speaks more to the value the Blue Jays place on the two players. They would love to have them back in the fold again in 2015, but will do so on their terms, i.e. minor league deals. For a guy like Kawasaki, who obviously likes it here and would return on any terms, that doesn’t seem like an issue. However, for a veteran like Johnson, he may wish to pursue other options in hopes of a real chance at playing time elsewhere.

At 33-years-old, Kawasaki enjoyed his finest season in the Major Leagues in 2014. Appearing in 82 games and seeing 274 plate appearances, the Japanese infielder slashed .258/.327/.296 and was worth 0.4 wins above replacement. Additionally, he played  respectable defense after being thrust into multiple innings at second and third base due to injuries.

As for Johnson, there’s a bit of a different story. The 34-year-old only saw action in 15 games with the Blue Jays in 2014, posting a .211/.333/.342 batting line with 1 home run and 7 RBI in 48 plate appearance. He was significantly better at Triple-A Buffalo though, where he hit 18 home runs and drove in 56 runs. However, Johnson never really had a place in Toronto as he was simply another left-handed bat in a line-up that struggled with left-handed pitching.

Regardless of Wilner’s stance, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of sense in bringing Johnson back unless he simply serves as depth in Buffalo, something that Johnson isn’t likely to accept for a second straight season. It’ll likely be another winter of minor league free agency for Mr. Johnson.