The Blue Jays currently sit 11.5 games out of first place in the AL East, but even if they become sellers, rival executives tell ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that the Jays aren't likely to trade Josh Johnson. The right-hander's trade value is too low currently thanks to his 5.16 ERA and trip to the disabled list earlier this year, so Toronto is more likely to hang onto him and make a qualifying offer following the season (Twitter links).
Johnson, 29, was acquired by Toronto in the offseason's blockbuster deal with the Marlins. He's disappointed thus far in terms of ERA, though his K/9 (9.1), BB/9 (3.1) and ground-ball rate (44 percent) are in the vicinity of his career norms. Both xFIP and SIERA feel his ERA should be in the mid-3.00 range. Johnson's chief problem has been a bloated homer-to-flyball ratio (14.7 percent) that's nearly double his career rate.
A one-year qualifying offer for Johnson would be worth approximately $13.8MM (as noted by Joel Sherman of the New York Post this morning) -- a reasonable gamble for a pitcher with Johnson's track record of success (though he also has a storied injury history). Were he to decline the offer and sign with a new club, the Blue Jays would receive an additional first-round pick, and his new team would lose its first-round selection. Because the Jays were unable to sign 2013 first-rounder Phil Bickford, Johnson declining and signing elsewhere would give them three picks in the first round of the 2014 draft -- the same scenario their division rivals, the Yankees, enjoyed in 2013.
Tim Dierkes recently listed Johnson in his glimpse at the trade market for starting pitchers (though it appears he's no longer in the running), and Johnson ranked ninth on the latest installment of Tim's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.