Indians add depth with Nick Johnson

Indians add depth with Nick Johnson

Indians add depth with Nick Johnson
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Indians added some roster depth on Monday, signing free agent Nick Johnson to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to attend Spring Training with the big league club.

When he joins Cleveland, Johnson will be continuing a rehab program after undergoing surgery on his right wrist in February. The first baseman missed most of last season with the Yankees because of issues with the wrist.

Given Johnson's current status, he will not be an option for the Indians come Opening Day. If he does join the Tribe at some point this season, his contract would include a club option for the 2012 campaign.

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"We need to get him healthy first," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "I don't think there's a secret what Nick can do. He's an on-base percentage machine and a very good first baseman. But right now it's irrelevant up until Nick finishes his rehab. Then we'll see what we've got in him."

Acta did not know how much time Johnson would miss while rehabbing the wrist.

If Johnson makes the Major League roster this season, he would have a salary of $750,000 with the Indians. The club option for the following year would be worth another $2.75 million.

Johnson, 32, played just 24 games with the Yankees last season due to the right wrist injury. He underwent surgery in May to repair a tendon in the wrist and needed a second operation in August after suffering a setback in his recovery.

In 2009, Johnson hit .291 with a .426 on-base percentage between stints with the Nationals and Marlins. Over 133 games that year, he belted eight home runs with 62 RBIs. Over nine seasons in the Majors, Johnson has posted a .270 average with a .401 on-base percentage.

Johnson, who bats from the left side, has spent the bulk of his career as a first baseman, but he has experience as a designated hitter as well. Johnson would add a layer of depth behind full-time first baseman Matt LaPorta and DH Travis Hafner.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.