Bedlam ruled the day of the trade deadline, and the Nick Johnson for LHP Aaron Thompson deal was no exception. The Nationals broke from their age old custom of clenching to tradeable players, and the Marlins (!) acted as buyers at the trade deadline.
The Fish will gladly insert Nick Johnson and his .417 on base percentage at 1B. In consequence, Jorge Cantu gets bumped over to third and Emilio Bonaficio gets booted to the role of utility infielder.
Johnson’s OBP matches his slugging percentage and moving to spacious Dolphin Stadium can’t really help his projection for a power recovery. ZiPS projects a .389 wOBA the rest of the season, I’d say that’s a tad too hopeful. .375 for the next 60 games seems a little more realistic. He’s normally been solid with the glove, but this year he’s slipped to a -7 per 150 games.
For his career, Cantu has been a disaster at the hot corner (-19 over 204 games), but the Marlins will absorb the hit so long as it gets Bonaficio and his sub-.300 OBP out of the lineup. After a hot start, Bonaficio rates along with the likes Jeff Francoeur as one of the worst regular players in the Senior Circuit with his -0.5 WAR.
Add this all up, and the gist is the Marlins got a win or two better. I’m not sure that helps them catch the Rockies or Giants in the Wild Card race; as a team they’ve been a bit of an overachieving bunch to begin with, but Johnson is a decent value bet.
The cost is lefty Aaron Thompson, who is better known as “Not Matt Garza” to Marlin’s fans. Thompson was Florida’s 1st round pick in the ’05 draft, but hasn’t really pitched up to scratch. He’s repeating Double-A, and is striking out a little less than 6 batters per nine innings. He works with an 89-91 MPH fastball, a curve and a changeup which grades as above average. He looks like a future back-end starter at this point.
It’s not an earth-shattering deal for either side, but I got to give the Nats some credit for turning Johnson, a player that was of no use to them, into something.
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