By Mike Harrington
A big potential signing for the Bisons today as the Toronto Blue Jays announced they have signed veteran first baseman Dan Johnson to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League spring training.
Johnson, 34, spent most of last season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before finishing the year with five games for the Norfolk Tides. Combined, the left-handed slugger hit .250 with 26 doubles, 21 home runs and 70 RBI in 138 games. He also led the league with 96 walks (to only 85 strikeouts).
Johnson has been one of the top sluggers in the International League since 2008 with four teams. He was the IL MVP for Durham in 2010 after hitting .303 and leading the league with 31 home runs, a .430 on-base pct. and a .624 slugging pct. in 98 games.
Johnson has finished in the Top 10 in home runs in the IL four times since 2008, leading the league in 2012 with 28 for Charlotte. He was an IL all-star in 2010 and won the league’s Home Run Derby. He also played in the 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game at Coca-Cola Field (for Charlotte) and finished second in the Home Run Derby behind Bisons slugger Valentino Pascucci.
In his eight-year Major League career, Johnson has played in 416 combined games with Oakland, Tampa Bay, the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore. He has hit .236 with 59 doubles, 56 home runs and 194 RBI for his big league career.
Johnson is best known for the video at the top of this post -- a dramatic bottom of the ninth, two-out, two-strike home run for Tampa Bay on the last day of the 2011 season. It forged a 7-7 tie with the Yankees in a game the Rays would win in the 11th and helped them nose out Boston for the AL wild-card.