Problem: the Rays have no real first basemen on their 40-man roster right now. Solution: Dan Johnson?
Believe it or not, Dan Johnson hit just .168 in 259 plate appearances with the Rays. But it was most clutch .168 you have ever seen. In his first at-bat as a Ray back in 2008, he slammed a solo homer off of Jonathan Papelbon. In 2010, he slammed a walk-off home run to beat the Red Sox and had a 2-homer game, including a go-ahead 2-run shot off of Phil Hughes in the 7th inning, on September 15th to put the Rays up half a game in the AL East over the Yankees. And in 2011, his first homer was a go-ahead blast in the 9th inning, and his second was legendary, his Game 162 game-tying homer off of Cory Wade that sent the game into extra innings.
The Rays tried to make Johnson into a regular player in 2011, and the experiment failed miserably as he had just a .115/.179/.167 line on May 19th before getting sent down to the minor leagues. But Johnson’s numbers at Triple-A are amazing as he has a .294/.408/.533 line 679 games with an unbelievable (and slightly depressing) 141 home runs to go along with more walks than strikeouts, and Johnson has actually been a productive big league regular before. In 2005, Johnson posted a .275/.355/.451 line with 12 doubles, 15 homers, 58 RBI, and a 52-50 strikeout to walk ratio in 108 games for the Oakland A’s and after a poor 2006, he came back with a .236/.349/.418 line with 20 doubles, 18 homers, 62 RBI, and a 77-72 strikeout to walk ratio in 117 games in 2007. Obviously that was quite a while ago, and Johnson is 33 years old now. But if Johnson is willing to take a minor league deal again, it’s not like the Rays have any better first base options than him right now. Why not bring him back and see what he can do?