Over his last 60 plate appearances, Johnson has a .407 average
With no clear-cut successor to Stephen Drew, who was traded to Oakland last month, the Arizona Diamondbacks will be in the market for a shortstop this off-season. They are well-stocked at third base, though, with Chris Johnson and prospects Matt Davidson and Ryan Wheeler.
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers, who traded outfield prospects Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss to Houston for Johnson before July’s non-waiver trade deadline, told MLB.com that the 27-year-old right-handed hitter will return in 2013 though he is eligible for arbitration.
As Towers noted, Johnson has been hot, cold and hot again. He started his Diamondbacks tenure with five home runs and a .333 average in his first 11 games followed by a .103 average and no home runs in the next 15 games. Over his last 60 plate appearances, Johnson has a .407 average. He left Sunday’s game in the second inning after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Colorado’s Jeff Francis. X-rays were negative and Johnson is day to day.
“He’s performed very, very well,” Towers said. “He’s hit for power. He’s got a nice arm over there and he’s made most of the defensive plays. To have that kind of power bat that deep in the lineup. Not many clubs in the National League are that deep and have someone hitting in the seven-hole that’s got a chance to pretty much hit the ball out of any part of the ballpark.”
In 476 at-bats between Houston and Arizona, Johnson is hitting .284 with 15 home runs and 75 RBI. With 25-year-old slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, the revitalized Aaron Hill at second base and Johnson at the hot corner, the Diamondbacks could have a complete infield if they make the speculated trade of outfielder Justin Upton to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Johnson could became a trade chip when Arizona deems the 21-year-old Davidson Major League ready. A supplemental round pick in 2009, Davidson hit .261 with 23 home runs and 76 RBI at Double-A Mobile in the Southern League this season and will likely open the 2013 campaign at Triple-A Reno.
The 24-year-old Wheeler, who plays both corner infield positions, hit .351 with 15 home runs, 90 RBI and a .960 OPS at Reno this year and has a .226 average in 93 at-bats with the Diamondbacks.
With Goldschmidt and Wheeler at first and Johnson and Davidson at third, Arizona has valuable trade pieces if it chooses to use them.