Watching the Rays stop, start and make a few unexpected turns through their offseason rebuilding, Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac had the same thought as many observers: that the team had too many middle infielders.
Tuesday, they found out for sure, designated for assignment as the Rays made room on the 40-man roster to add one of those new infielders, Kelly Johnson, plus reliever Kyle Farnsworth. (The addition of DH Luke Scott in the next few days will require another move.)
The Rays have 10 days to trade, release or put the two through waivers, but both Elliot Johnson, a key reserve the past two seasons, and Brignac, the primary shortstop in 2011, were talking as if they were gone, grateful for the opportunity and gracious in their praise of the organization but eager for another chance elsewhere.
Johnson: "I feel good about how I played last year … so I'm looking forward to 2013 and getting the chance to do it in the big leagues with somebody else."
Brignac: "I'm not disappointed, I'm eagerly excited about the opportunity to play for another organization, possibly the chance to get a little more playing time."
Neither looked to get it with the Rays, who acquired Yunel Escobar to play shortstop, seem to be pairing Kelly Johnson, a lefty hitter, with righty Ryan Roberts (or Sean Rodriguez) at second base and have Ben Zobrist able to handle both spots when he's not in the outfield.
Both Elliot Johnson, 28, and Brignac, 27, are out of options, so the Rays couldn't send them to the minors without exposing them to waivers anyway. Johnson, a switch-hitter who can play anywhere, has the right to become a free agent if he clears waivers; Brignac, a slick fielder who swings left-handed, doesn't but would seem to have some trade value.
Rays designate Brignac, Elliot Johnson for assignment
Tampa Bay Times | Feb 6