Discussion: Nick Johnson

Quick: name the OBP leader among this year's free agent classManny Ramirez, Matt Holliday, or Bobby Abreu perhaps?  Nope.  It's Nick Johnson, who was third in all of baseball this year with a .426 OBP.

The facts about Johnson: he didn't hit for much power this year; in fact, his OBP exceeded his .405 SLG.  Aside from his on-base skills, Johnson is best known for his extensive injury history; he missed all of '07 and had only 147 plate appearances in '08 (due to a broken femur and wrist surgery).  However, he was able to tally 574 PAs this year, 628 in '06, and 547 in '05.  It was Johnson's '05 campaign that prompted former Nationals GM Jim Bowden to give him the three-year, $16.5MM extension that just concluded.  The 31-year-old first baseman projects as a Type B free agent, so the Marlins can snag a draft pick if they're willing to offer him arbitration.

Back in July, MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote that Johnson will seek a two-year deal in free agency.  SI's Jon Heyman guessed two years and $16MM a few weeks ago.  Aside from the Marlins, the Giants and Rangers were eyeing Johnson as a trade target during the summer.  If the Giants non-tender Ryan Garko and want to upgrade on Travis Ishikawa, they could still make sense.  Same goes for the Rangers if they don't trust Chris Davis' strong finish or want to incorporate Johnson as the part-time DH.  The Mets have a first base opening and Omar Minaya is familiar with Johnson, but Heyman believes the team will avoid injury-prone players.  Other possible fits: the Orioles, Braves, Royals, A's, Mariners, and Diamondbacks.

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