Jays may shift Johnson to outfield

Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson throws to first base during a game against the Orioles in...

Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson throws to first base during a game against the Orioles in Baltimore, Md., Aug. 31, 2011. (JOE GIZA/Reuters)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:24 AM ET

DALLAS - The Blue Jays’ Kelly Johnson accepted salary arbitration just before the midnight deadline.

So, that means all problems at second base are solved?

Not necessarily.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos said Johnson, who played left field for the 2005 Atlanta Braves, could also be an option at that position.

So, even though Johnson accepted arbitration Wednesday night, a search for a second baseman may continue, according to Anthopoulos.

BAY, LACKEY AS JAYS?

Anthopoulos said that Jays president Paul Beeston told him in 2009, that he could chase free agents Jason Bay and John Lackey.

“Paul said two winters ago: ‘You sure you don’t want Lackey? You sure you don’t want Bay?’ I said: ‘I like the players, I don’t like the price,’” said Anthopoulos. “I like a lot of players ... at a certain price. There are some players, I love the talent and ability, but at a certain price they don’t fit.”

Bay hit 18 homers with 104 RBIs in 218 games his first two seasons with the Mets, while Lackey was 26-23 with a 5.26 ERA in 61 starts for the Boston Red Sox.

“There has been so much talk, everywhere I go ... ‘the Jays are going to be big, big spenders, they’re going to go crazy.’ I’ve tried to throw water on this fire and no one listens. Someone is going to listen to me finally.”

Pardon?

GIO CHASING

The Jays remain one of the teams (double-figures and counting) in the hunt for Oakland A’s lefty Gio Gonzalez, 26, who was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA in 32 starts. The ever re-building A’s want talented low-level prospects, which is what the Jays have.

The largest prospect deal that the Jays ever swung was at the 1996 GMs meetings at the Phoencian Hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., when GM Gord Ash and his scouts thought they added two everyday players in right fielder Orlando Merced and second baseman Carlos Garcia, plus reliever Dan Plesac from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Plesac was the only piece which helped as Merced and Garcia were in the starting lineup for a combined 195 games. Plesac pitched 262 games in his two stints with the Jays.

The Jays shipped six minors leaguers to the Bucs: Jose Silva, Abraham Nunez, Craig Wilson, Brandon Cromer, Jose Pett and Mike Halperin. Silva, Nunez and Wilson played in the majors.

NIESE IS NICE

The Mets are trying to move Jonathon Niese, 25, who was 11-11 in 26 starts. He walked 44 and struck out 138 in 1571/3 innings. The Mets want a multi-player package. The Padres, Rockies, Red Sox and Jays are interested.

PADRES REPLACE BELL

The San Diego Padres picked up a replacement for departed free agent Heath Bell by acquiring Huston Street from the Colorado Rockies for a player to be named and cash. The Jays had inquired about Street before landing Sergio Santos from the Chicago White Sox for prospect Nestor Molina on Tuesday. Street earns $7.5 million US in 2012, $500,000 of which the Rockies will pay.

The New York Mets, meanwhile, landed former Jays closer Frank Francisco as a two-year, $12-million free-agent sign.

YANKS WIN OUT

Hiroyuki Nakajima of the Seibu Lions now has 30 days to reach agreement with the New York Yankees who had the highest bid ($2 million) for the Japanese shortstop. Right-hander Yu Darvish is expected to be posted within the week by the Nippon Ham Fighters.


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