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Diamondbacks Avoid Arbitration With Kelly Johnson, Settle At $5.85m

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The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today they have avoided arbitration and agreed to terms with infielder Kelly Johnson on a one-year contract, according to D-backs' Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Towers [hat-tip Jdub220]. He made $2.35 million last year, but the player and team were scheduled to go to arbitration tomorrow, with the Diamondbacks filing at a figure of $4.7 million while Johnson wanted $6.5 million. The AP reports the deal signed was for $5.85 million [hat-tip Bcawz], so Johnson "wins", that being slightly higher than the mid-point of $5.6 million.

More thoughts after the jump.

In 2010, Johnson had a strong bounce-back year, hitting .284 with 93 runs scored, 36 doubles, 5 triples, 26 home runs and 71 RBI in 154 games last season. He established career-highs in hits (166), home runs (26), RBI (71), stolen bases (13), slugging percentage (.496) and OPS (.865), and set a new mark for AZ second basemen with 36 doubles. He was named NL Player of the Month in April and became the fourth D-back to hit for the cycle against the Giants on July 23. He committed just 8 errors: his .988 fielding percentage ranked fifth among NL second basemen and among D-backs, is second only to Craig Counsell's .990 fielding percentage in 2005.

In terms of Wins Above Replacement, Johnson was very valuable last year. His total of 4.7 ranked second in franchise history at the position, trailing Jay Bell's 1999 (5.3 WAR). It was also ranked second in the majors, with the Yankees' Robinson Cano (6.1) the only second-baseman to be more productive. For a player who had a reputation of not being all that good defensive - Johnson had a negative Ultimate Zone rating each of the previous three seasons - KJ proved very solid, with a 2010 UZR of +7.1. That was a figure good enough for third in the National League, trailing Chase Utley of the Phillies (10.3) and the Reds' Brandon Phillips (9.7).

The settlement keeps alive the Diamondbacks' streak of non-arbitration years, which has now reached a decade since they last went there with Damian Miller in 2001. I was kinda hoping we might end up signing Johnson to a longer contract than just the one year - we don't have an obvious replacement after KJ becomes a free-agent at the end of this season. There's still a chance that will happen, but it seems less likely now the two sides have agreed to terms for 2011.