The final piece to the Royals’ big trade with Tampa Bay fell into place Tuesday afternoon when the two clubs agreed on utilityman Elliot Johnson joining the Royals as the player to be named later in the Dec. 9 deal.
“He’s a super utility guy who can play any position,” said pitcher James Shields, a former teammate whom the Royals acquired in the seven-player trade.
“He works hard, and he’s a great clubhouse guy. I think he’ll be a really good fit in the clubhouse. I’m excited that he’s coming with us here.”
The Royals cleared space on for Johnson on their 40-man roster by placing right-hander Felipe Paulino on the 60-day disabled list. Paulino is eligible May 30 for reinstatement but is currently recovering from elbow surgery and isn’t expected to return until July.
Johnson, 29, was designated for assignment Feb. 5 by the Rays after he batted .242 last season with six homers and 33 RBIs in 123 games. He has a .223 average in 200 career games with Tampa Bay, which signed him in 2002 as an undrafted free agent.
“He can play just about any position on the field,” manager Ned Yost said. “He’s a switch-hitter. He always was a tough out when we played against them. He’s a smart player. That’s the appeal.”
Johnson is out of options, which suggests the Royals see him as a likely fit for their 25-man roster. He is expected to report Thursday to the Royals and take part Friday in the club’s first official full-squad workout.
Paulino, 29, underwent Tommy John surgery on July 3 to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He was 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA before elbow pain forced his departure from a June 6 start against Minnesota at Kauffman Stadium.
The move completes a seven-player deal that previously saw the Royals obtain Shields and pitcher Wade Davis for outfielder Wil Myers, pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, and third baseman Patrick Leonard.