American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier examines the deal that sent infielder/pitcher Dan Johnson to the Lincoln Saltdogs for Nathaniel Maggio.
Examining the Dan Johnson-Nathaniel Maggio Deal
Friday the 13th became a memorable day for infielder/pitcher Dan Johnson as he was dealt to the Lincoln Saltdogs, giving him a great view out past centerfield at the campus of the University of Nebraska, the school where he starred as a collegiate athlete. The St. Paul Saints acquired infielder Nathaniel Maggio.
What Dan Johnson Brings to the Saltdogs
The Lincoln Saltdogs acquisition of Dan Johnson really serves three purposes. First of all, Johnson adds another lively bat to this potent Lincoln lineup. Johnson is a former Major Leaguer who spent parts of 10 different seasons in the big leagues, playing with Oakland, Tampa Bay, the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore, Toronto, and St. Louis. He had only appeared in nine games for the St. Paul Saints this season, hitting .158, however, last season, he hit .346 in 15 games before heading to Mexico. He has power and can hit for a high average.
Johnson has been resurrecting his career as a pitcher, starting with the Saints in 2016, and had his contract purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers that season, where he made four starts for AA-Tulsa. This season he made three appearances but, with a greater opportunity, the knuckleballer could easily have success in Lincoln.
Of course, Johnson was a standout at the University of Nebraska, and his return should create some buzz around the community. When he visited with the Saints in 2016, his appearance drew a lot of local media to the game, and his name in the lineup on a regular basis should draw some fan interest.
What Nathaniel Maggio Brings to the Saints
Nathaniel Maggio is a rookie, which is always a bonus in the American Association. Teams are required to carry five rookies when they have five veterans and, when a team has a quality performer like Maggio, it makes a real difference. Plus, Saints Manager George Tsamis now has an additional veteran spot available with the trade of Johnson.
Maggio appeared in 49 games for the Saltdogs in 2017, hitting .288 with 7-homers and 35-RBI. This season, he is hitting .257 in 47 games with 2-homers and 15-RBI. Maggio comes to St. Paul in a bit of a rut with just five hits in his last 33 at-bats.
Does It Hurt Either Team?
Lincoln is probably more affected by the deal than St. Paul is, but the trade should have a minimal impact. Saltdogs Manager Bobby Brown is trying to get this pitching staff in order for a run at the playoffs, and Johnson can be a starter who can really disrupt opposing team’s rotations because of the use of the knuckleball. That should throw off their timing and could make them the team that no one wants to face.
The St. Paul Saints gain a player who can play the corner infield positions and the outfield, and he is a solid defender. The loss of Johnson has been mitigated by the depth Tsamis has added to the pitching staff, so he wound up getting a player who will likely have a much more meaningful role with the team.
By Robert Pannier