Chris Johnson hopes for trade from Braves
Third baseman limited to backup role with Uribe on board
ATLANTA -- After spending the offseason knowing the Braves were trying to trade him, Chris Johnson has spent the past few months gaining reason to believe he is no longer wanted in Atlanta. Thus, with the July 31 Trade Deadline approaching, the veteran third baseman is hoping to soon find himself with another team.
"In some ways, it's nerve-wracking because you never know what to expect every day when you go to the park," Johnson said. "It's been a frustrating year. From the beginning of the offseason, it's been really pretty clear that the team has no interest in getting me back to form or to give me regular playing time."
After Johnson finished second in the 2013 National League batting title race and went 7-for-16 in that year's Division Series against the Dodgers, former Braves general manager Frank Wren signed Johnson a three-year, $23.5 million contract extension on May 2, 2014. The deal immediately raised eyebrows and was further criticized as Johnson batted .263 with a .653 OPS last year.
When president of baseball operations John Hart and assistant GM John Coppolella took over after Wren was dismissed in September, they began attempting to move this contract, which guarantees Johnson approximately $20.5 million through the end of 2017 season.
Their countless attempts to move Johnson have proven unsuccessful because teams have not been willing to assume the financial commitment.
"I've been called in the manager's office," Johnson said. "[Manager Fredi Gonzalez] has told me they are trying to move me. I want to be moved, and they want to move me. Hopefully, something gets done."
Johnson had batted .243 in 123 plate appearances entering Monday. He entered this season knowing he would primarily only start against left-handed pitchers. His spirits were further diminished when immediately after he returned from a four-week disabled list stint in late May, the Braves cemented his role as a backup by acquiring Juan Uribe to serve as their primary third baseman.
The Braves are still holding out hope to find a suitor for Johnson, who has batted .378 in 164 at-bats against left-handers since the start of the 2014 season.
"I've just been trying to be a good teammate," Johnson said. "I really enjoy a lot of the players I've played with in Atlanta. It's frustrating because I feel like I've done some pretty good things here in Atlanta. I took a little step back in 2014, but in 2013 I was pretty high up there in the National League in hitting. So, it just feels like that ship has kind of sailed and I'm kind of like an afterthought. I would love to help somebody out. I still have plenty of confidence. My confidence is sky high. I just want to get a chance."