Reed Johnson returns to Miami Marlins on minor league deal

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The Miami Marlins searched all winter long for their fourth outfielder before finally landing Ichiro Suzuki a couple weeks ago.

On Tuesday, the club added more outfield depth by re-signing 38 year-old veteran Reed Johnson to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training, according to reports.

Johnson hit .235/.266/.348 with two home runs in 201 plate appearances for the Marlins last season, posting a -0.7 fWAR. He was used primarily as a pinch-hitter and went 16-for-67 (.239) with three doubles and 12 RBI in that role last year.

The Marlins outfield is already set, with Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton returning as incumbent starters and Ichiro supplanting them in a fourth outfielder role. In his 12-year MLB career Johnson has never played anywhere but the outfield, so his chances of catching on with the Marlins for a second straight year look pretty bleak. Still, the Marlins don’t have a ton of depth behind their MLB outfield, but Tyler Colvin and Jordany Valdespin are other options if another outfielder is needed during the season.

Miami’s bench projects to include Jeff Mathis as the backup catcher, Jeff Baker and Donovan Solano as right-handed pinch hitters/utility infielders, and Ichiro as backup outfielder. That leaves one bench spot to be filled by one of a plethora of candidates that includes Don Kelly, Derek Dietrich, Scott Sizemore, Justin Bour, Miguel Rojas, Colvin and Valdespin, as well as Johnson. Johnson hasn’t played in the minors, except for during rehab stints, since his rookie year of 2003. So it’s unclear if the veteran will accept a minor league assignment.

It will probably be New Orleans or bust for Reed Johnson, at least for the start of the 2015 season. If he even sticks around with the Marlins at all.

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