Chris Johnson (Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

How's that Chris Johnson trade looking now?

It’s still way too early to make a definitive judgement on the Chris Johnson trade. However, the early results aren’t exactly looking favorable for the Astros (or for the Diamondbacks for that matter).

The D-Backs traded Johnson to Atlanta, along with Justin Upton, prior to the 2013 season and the former Astro responded with the best season of his career. Johnson finished second in the National League with a .321 batting average, trailing only Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer. Winning the job over Juan Francisco to become the replacement for Braves’ legend Chipper Jones, Johnson banged out 165 hits, including 34 doubles and 12 homers.

Despite some horrendous fielding metrics, the third-baseman contributed enough offensively to post a 2.8 fWAR for the season. That should pay off nicely for Johnson who is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility. Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Johnson will see his salary increase from the $2.875 million he made in 2013 to $4.2 million next season.

Longtime readers of this site know that I have always been a believer in CJ. He has consistently been among the league leaders in line drive percentage throughout his career. Sure, he strikes out a lot and he can’t hit the side of a barn with one of his throws, but there is something to be said for a player who hits a ton of line drives.

It’s great to see CJ having such success. But what about the players the Astros obtained in the trade? On July 29, 2012 the Astros sent Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a pair of outfield prospects, Marc Krauss and Bobby Borchering.

Upon his arrival in the Astros system, Krauss continued to display the power and on-base skills that he had showcased throughout his minor league career. Krauss would make his big league debut in June of 2013 but would not enjoy the same levels of prosperity. At this point the jury is still out on the broad-shouldered 26-year old — but it appears as though he may only be a platoon player. A left-handed hitter, only 15 of his 146 big league plate appearances came against lefties.

Borchering was a first round pick by the Diamondbacks in the 2009 draft. The switch-hitter had excellent power numbers in the lower levels of Arizona’s farm system but has struggled to produce since being traded. Borchering was drafted out of high school and just turned 23 earlier this week. Even though he is still young, Borchering is beginning to fall behind a bit in the area of age versus competition. He will need to advance a couple of levels this year to catch up.

You never know how a trade will turn out in the long run. And, like I said, this one still has plenty of time to turn around. Getting two seemingly legitimate prospects for one “marginal” player seemed like a good deal at the time — and it still could be. Arizona sending Johnson AND Upton to Atlanta may have been the worst move of all.


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  • Bob

    Looking at what Chris Johnson did batting-wise, this looks like a terrible trade. I still believe it has to run out its course and even if Bochering (which he probably won’t) and/or Krauss (he could be a candidate to be dropped from the 40 man roster) don’t make it, the trade still had to be done. The Diamondbacks realized that Chris Johnson wouldn’t fit in with their team and almost immediately after they got him from Houston, they talked about needing a third baseman. He was considered a throw in when they traded Upton and the Diamondbacks welcomed that opportunity. I don’t think Atlanta thought they were getting someone who was going to be second in the league in batting either. I think Houston saw that Matty D was far superior than Johnson at third base, saw that long, upper cut swing he had at Houston (where he would kill a ball in the bottom/in part of the plate, but look pathetic when it was anywhere else) and I don’t think Houston cared too much for his personality as well. There were numerous times last year where he felt the need to get in the faces of opposing teams, like with Fernandez from the Marlins. And he was the first to come storming into the pile when it looked like there was going to be a fight. I think it is great that he had such a good season, but I wouldn’t bet on him having another or even him being passed along to another team. As you noted, time will tell.

    • astrosince1975

      Agree. Thanks for reading.

  • 1oldpro

    So far, the trade looks even. The Astros and D-backs have gotten little for a little. The trade that looks real bad is the D-backs and the Braves. Turned out great for the Braves. Of course, the Braves outfield was horrible, but they got lots of hits from CJ.

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  • Larry

    Greg, I been reading on diffrent stories about what the Astros are looking for &maybe who they are looking at to be on the 2014 Astros Roster. And I have not seen anything as yet. What are the Astros really looking for?? I put my story on what I am hoping the Astros might look like in 2014. Here is my 2014 Line-up;
    Jacoby Ellsbury;CF; Jose Altuve; 2B; Corey Hart; 1B; Giancarlo Stanton; RF; Jason Castro;C; Chris Carter; DH; Brandon Barnes; LF; Matt Dominguez; 3B; Jonathan Villar; SS; Starting Pitchers: Jordan Lyles; Jarred Cosart; Scott Feldman; Dallas Keuchel; Brett Oberholtzer; Relief Pitchers; Kevin Chapman; Josh Fields; Chia-Jen Lo; Paul Clemens; Brad Peacock; Closer: Chris Perez or Edward Mujica. Bench Players; David Murphy; L.J. Hoes; Marvin Gonzalez. I know there will more Free Agents. We will wait & see what happens..

    • astrosince1975

      A lot depends on how the Free Agent market sets up this winter. Crane keeps saying he is ready to buy, but I don’t think the Astros are going to be bidding for the big money guys.

      The biggest needs are OF, bullpen, and a veteran starter. I’ve already done posts about the OF and starting pitchers that I think the Astros might pursue. I will also be doing a post on available relievers soon.

      I doubt those free agents that you listed will be joining the team. But there is one special player that you left off your list. George Springer should be the starter in CF.