(Cue Coming Home by Diddy). That's right, he's back: for the third time in his career, Kelly Johnson will be a Brave again. Mark Bowman reported the signing on Wednesday. The 33-year-old will make $2 million in 2016, with incentives which could add up to $1.25 million. Johnson batted .265 last year in 111 games, and the years of him being a full-time starter are long gone. He'll likely play a platoon/bench/utility role for the Braves in 2016.
With this upcoming season being the final Braves season at Turner Field, the Braves will be hosting FanFest on January 30. FanFest will include panel discussions, autograph sessions and photo booths. It's free and open to the public, and will take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tours of Turner Field will be held, as well as a "yard sale" for Braves apparel and merchandise. Additional details will be released at a later date.
"We are opening the doors to Turner Field this winter to give fans an intimate experience in the ballpark and kick off the final season celebrations," said Braves Vice President of Marketing Adam Zimmerman. "From autographs to tours, the day will be full of unique opportunities for fans to create new Turner Field memories and reflect on old ones."
One of the (many) things we've learned this off-season is that it pays to pitch -- literally. Mike Leake (five years, $80 million), Scott Kazmir (three years, $48 million) and Jeff Samardzija (five years, $90 million) are just a few of the hefty deals that above average pitchers have claimed this winter. Then there's Julio Teheran, signed to a rather modest five-year, $40.6 million deal. When you weigh out all the statstics, and take a look at what some pitchers are being paid, you really see how much of a bargain Julio's deal is.
Our long national nightmare is over -- the Hall of Fame voting period is over. This year, only two players earned themselves a spot in Cooperstown: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. Griffey broke Tom Seaver's percentage record set in 1992, earning a vote from 99.3% of the ballots (that's right, three people actually chose to not vote for Ken Griffey Jr.) Piazza received 83% of the necessary votes to make it in.
"I can't be upset at anybody," said Griffey, a four-time American League home run champion, the AL MVP Award in '97, and a 13-time All-Star, 10 of them in the AL. "It's certainly an honor to be elected. To have the highest percentage is a shock. I don't think about it that way. The big thing is to get into the Hall of Fame. As long as you get in, that's what it is. I was really surprised it was so high."
There was a time this off-season where many believed that Kansas City Royals star Alex Gordon would be landing in a new home this winter: the Royals had different plans. The defending World Series champions locked up Gordon to a $72 million deal, the largest free agent deal in team history. Gordon, 31, batted ,271 in 2015, and hit 13 home runs with 48 RBI.