Josh Johnson Rumors

West Notes: Baker, Dodgers, Johnson, Iwakuma

Prior to being hired as the Diamondbacks‘ general manager, Dave Stewart reached out to Dusty Baker to let him know that he may have interest in Baker as a manager if he were to get the GM role, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, Baker never heard back from Stewart before the D-Backs hired Chip Hale. Baker said he has no hard feelings about not getting an interview. Stewart told Heyman that he does indeed have a good deal of respect for both Baker and former Rangers manager Ron Washington, both of whom he initially considered for the managerial vacancy. Baker tells Heyman that he hopes to manage again, and Heyman notes that he has applied to three positions, including the Mariners, Tigers and Nationals since being let go from the Reds. “I didn’t fire myself,” said Baker. “I didn’t retire.”

Here’s more from out west …

  • The Dodgers have now acquired and designated no fewer than four relievers, and have made a host of other minor roster moves in the season’s early going. That has all taken place as part of the club’s plan entering the season, manager Don Mattingly explains (video via the Tout feed of J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Media Group).
  • Padres righty Josh Johnson tossed a 40-pitch pen session today and is nearing a rehab stint, manager Bud Black tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock (Twitter link). The 31-year-old has not made a major league appearance since 2013, but represents some nice low-risk upside for an a San Diego club that is off to a nice start.
  • The Mariners have struggled somewhat with keeping runs off the board, a subject that I discussed with Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune on today’s podcast. In addition to starting poorly, veteran Hisashi Iwakuma has hit the DL with shoulder fatigue (officially called a strained lat), as Dutton reports. He will undergo an MRI tonight, though the hope is that some rest will do the trick. Of course, Iwakuma is also a free agent after the season, and he’ll have some catching up to do to re-establish his value at age 34.

NL West Notes: Whiteside, Johnson, Descalso, Guerrero

Catcher Eli Whiteside has opted to accept a coaching job with the Giants rather than taking one of several offers he had to continue playing, MLB.com’s Chris Haft reports. The veteran played in parts of six MLB seasons, including a three-year run in which he was a significant contributor for San Francisco. He will retire after getting one last short run in the bigs last year with the Cubs.

More from the NL West:

  • Padres righty Josh Johnson has progressed to the point that he’ll throw to a catcher on flat ground, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. With his training program currently on track, Johnson is scheduled to throw a pen session for the first time by mid-March with a target of game action by June, if all goes according to plan. Johnson’s deal with San Diego promises him only $1MM but can increase all the way to $7.25MM if he maxes out his incentives.
  • Fellow two-time TJ patient Cory Luebke is also hoping to return strong for the Padres, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. The story details some of the ups and downs that Luebke has had in dealing with his two procedures. As with Johnson, 2015 is something of a make-good season for the lefty: his early-career extension is up after the season, when San Diego will have to decide whether to exercise a $7.5MM option or pay a $1.75MM buyout.
  • The Rockies pursued utilityman Daniel Descalso not only because he would offer a versatile bench option, but because of his big-game experience, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. Skipper Walt Weiss explained that the former Cardinals infielder brought an underappreciated element to the squad. “All of that factored in quite a bit,” said Weiss. “I think we sometimes underestimate the value of that — guys that have played in big games, pennant races, and have won a World Series. Those types of players are valuable, and that’s a big reason why we brought Danny in here.”
  • Alex Guerrero‘s contract and the Dodgers roster situation makes for quite a puzzle, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. On the one hand, Guerrero can refuse an optional assignment and has said he will do just that. On the other, if he is traded he will earn the right to opt out of his deal after the season. Cameron posits that the club could send Guerrero out in exchange for some savings on his 2015 tab, agreeing to remain responsible for post-2015 responsibilities while hoping he will opt out. The Angels, Blue Jays, Rockies, and Rangers all look like reasonable landing spots, in Cameron’s estimation.

Padres Sign Josh Johnson, Designate Jake Goebbert

7:01pm: The deal does indeed include $6.25MM in achievable incentives based on games started, with triggers ranging from his fifth to 33rd start, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

4:10pm: The Padres announced today their widely expected signing of right-hander Josh Johnson to a one-year deal. Previous reports indicated that Johnson, a client of Sosnick/Cobbe Sports, would earn $1MM plus incentives. To clear room on the 40-man roster, the Padres designated Jake Goebbert for assignment.

Assuming previous reports remain accurate, Johnson will receive $500K for making his fifth start, $1MM for his 10th start, $500K for his 15th start and $1MM for his 20th. He will then earn $250K per start for starts 21-33. In total, his $1MM contract can reach $7.25MM if all of the incentives are reached.

The 30-year-old Johnson (31 at the end of this month) signed a one-year, $8MM deal with the Padres last offseason coming off a down season with Toronto. However, Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery in April and never made a start wearing a Padres uniform. His contract contained a conditional $4MM club option that triggered in the event he made fewer than seven starts, but the Friars declined that option and chose to re-sign him to an even lower guarantee. Though Johnson had the ability to test the open market, it was widely expected that he’d return to San Diego, as agent Matt Sosnick said more than once that Johnson felt he has “unfinished business” in San Diego.

It’s been two full years since Johnson was fully healthy, but there’s little denying what an impactful arm he can be when healthy. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA/2.41 FIP over the course of 183 2/3 innings with the Marlins in 2010 and has a career 3.40 ERA in 998 innings at the Major League level. Staying healthy has never come easy to Johnson, however, who has topped 180 innings just three times since debuting in 2005.

Johnson is the second injury-prone, high-upside arm that the Padres have added this offseason. GM A.J. Preller also inked Brandon Morrow to a one-year, $2.5MM contract that is heavily incentive-laden as well. Those two will give the Padres some rotation depth beyond a front trio of Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy. Right-hander Jesse Hahn, who pitched well out of the Friars’ rotation in 2014, was dealt to the A’s in the Derek Norris trade, and fellow righty Joe Wieland went to Los Angeles in the Matt Kemp deal. Johnson and Morrow will compete with Robbie Erlin and Cory Luebke (who is recovering from his second Tommy John operation) for spots in manager Bud Black’s rotation. Johnson, however isn’t likely to be ready to pitch on Opening Day, as his operation came on April 24 last season.

The 27-year-old Goebbert, meanwhile, was acquired from the Athletics along with a player to be named later (Ronald Herrera) in exchange for Kyle Blanks back in May of 2014. Goebbert made his big league debut with the Padres this season, hitting .218/.313/.317 in 115 plate appearances. Goebbert hit a strong .296/.410/.539 with 14 homers between the Padres’ and Athletics’ Triple-A affiliates in 2014.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported the terms of the contract last month.



Padres, Josh Johnson Still Working Toward Deal

DEC. 29: The Padres are preparing to announce their deal with Johnson and could do so as soon as today, Passan tweets.

DEC. 22, 2:22pm: Sosnick tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that an agreement isn’t in place, and Johnson has not taken a physical (Twitter links). If and when a contract gets done, Sosnick tells Crasnick, it will take a few more days.

1:54pm: The Padres and right-hander Josh Johnson are now in agreement on a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $1MM that can reach $7.25MM total via incentives, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Johnson, a client of Sosnick/Cobbe Sports, was said to be on the verge of an agreement late last week.

Johnson will receive $500K for making his fifth start, $1MM for his 10th start, $500K for his 15th start and $1MM for his 20th. He will then earn $250K per start for starts 21-33, according to Passan.

The 30-year-old Johnson (31 next month) signed a one-year, $8MM deal with the Padres last offseason coming off a down season with Toronto. However, Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery in April and never made a start wearing a Padres uniform. His contract contained a conditional $4MM club option that triggered in the event he made fewer than seven starts, but the Friars declined that option and chose to re-sign him to an even lower guarantee. Though Johnson had the ability to test the open market, it was widely expected that he’d return to San Diego, as agent Matt Sosnick said more than once that Johnson felt he has “unfinished business” in San Diego.

It’s been two full years since Johnson was fully healthy, but there’s little denying what an impactful arm he can be when healthy. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA/2.41 FIP over the course of 183 2/3 innings with the Marlins in 2010 and has a career 3.40 ERA in 998 innings at the Major League level. Staying healthy has never come easy to Johnson, however, who has topped 180 innings just three times since debuting in 2005.

Johnson is the second injury-prone, high-upside arm that the Padres have added this offseason. GM A.J. Preller also inked Brandon Morrow to a one-year, $2.5MM contract that is heavily incentive-laden as well. Those two will give the Padres some rotation depth beyond a front trio of Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy. Right-hander Jesse Hahn, who pitched well out of the Friars’ rotation in 2014, was dealt to the A’s in the Derek Norris trade, and fellow righty Joe Wieland went to Los Angeles in the Matt Kemp deal. Johnson and Morrow will compete with Robbie Erlin and Cory Luebke (who is recovering from his second Tommy John operation) for spots in manager Bud Black’s rotation. Johnson, however isn’t likely to be ready to pitch on Opening Day, as his operation came on April 24 last season.


Josh Johnson, Padres Nearing One-Year Deal

10:11pm: Johnson’s deal is “closer to $1MM” in base salary, a source tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).  The incentives could make the contract worth somewhere in the $7MM-$8MM range.

5:44pm: The base value of Johnson’s deal is worth slightly under $2MM, but with incentives that could raise the total value to $8MM, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.

5:00pm: The Padres and Josh Johnson are on the verge of completing a one-year deal, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The contract contains significant incentives for games started, but details are still being worked out, Passan adds.

Johnson signed a one-year, $8MM contract with the Padres last offseason that contained a conditional $4MM club option which would trigger if he failed to make seven starts for the Friars. While that did happen, the nature of his injury — Tommy John surgery — caused San Diego to decline the option anyway. Nonetheless, the Sosnick/Cobbe client has been widely expected to return to the Padres.

Johnson would mark the second high-risk, high-upside arm that GM A.J. Preller has landed this offseason, as the team recently agreed to terms with Brandon Morrow on an incentive-laden one-year deal with a $2.5MM guarantee. Johnson likely wouldn’t be ready until midseason anyhow, but he and Morrow could pair with some combination of Andrew CashnerTyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, Jesse Hahn Robbie Erlin and Odrisamer Despaigne, among others, in a deep rotation mix for the Padres.


Rockies Notes: Harang, Johnson, Gee, Rosario

MLB.com’s Thomas Harding rounds up some of the names connected to Rockies’ offseason pitching search, including the new information that Colorado is interested in Josh Johnson and Aaron Harang.  Johnson may soon be off the board as he’s close to re-signing with San Diego, though Harang’s market has been pretty quiet this winter.  As Harding notes, the Rockies are looking for ground ball pitchers (such as Kevin Correia or Kyle Kendrick) who could handle the thin air of Coors Field, but Harang doesn’t fit that bill; the veteran righty only has a 38.2% grounder rate over his career.  The Rockies are still exploring trade possibilities and aren’t believed to have begun serious negotiations with any pitcher, Harding reports.

Here’s some more from the Mile High city…

  • One of those possible trades could involve the Mets’ Dillon Gee, though Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (Twitter link) said talks are “on hold.”  Saunders thinks the two sides “were close” to a deal at one point.
  • Besides looking for pitching, the Wilin Rosario trade market has been the Rockies’ biggest offseason focus, ESPN’s Jerry Crsnick tweets.  American League teams are the “prime targets” for Rosario, as his long-term future may be at DH rather than catcher.
  • The Rockies want pitching back in any trade for Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez or Justin Morneau, though no deal involving any of the three stars is imminent, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports (via Twitter).  Colorado has discussed all three players in trade talks this offseason.

Padres Notes: Kotsay, Bats, Headley, Everth, Johnson

The Padres have announced that Mark Kotsay will join the team’s uniformed staff as the hitting coach. Kotsay, 39 tomorrow, saw action in 17 MLB campaigns — including two stints with the Friars. He hung up his spikes before the 2014 season, which he spent with the organization as a special assistant.

Here’s more out of San Diego:

  • GM A.J. Preller is “aggressively” seeking to acquire bats that would position the team as a near-term division contender, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The team has already been a significant factor in several early signings, though it has yet to land a major target this offseason.
  • We already took a look at a recent piece from MLB.com’s Corey Brock addressing the Padres’ offseason efforts, but another of his notes bears mention. Recently-dealt third baseman Chase Headley, now a free agent, is not believed to be a fit for his old club, a source tells Brock. A reunion had at least seemed hypothetically plausible, especially after the team dangled big money at Pablo Sandoval.
  • Like other clubs around the game, the Pads are preparing to make some difficult non-tender decisions tomorrow evening. As Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, the decision on shortstop Everth Cabrera is complicated by his recent PED suspension, arrest for driving under the influence of marijuana, and related charge for resisting arrest. Sources tell Lin that Cabrera was “not entirely forthcoming” with the club in the aftermath of the DUI, which may play a role in the team’s decision. Of course, the 28-year-old’s .232/.272/.300 slash last year does not help his cause either.
  • Free agent starter Josh Johnson is still weighing offers from multiple teams, agent Matt Sosnick told MLBTR in last week’s podcast (around the 18:00 mark). “He’s a pretty loyal guy,” said Sosnick, such that the chances are he probably goes back to San Diego.” Johnson’s representative explained that the righty was drawing “a ton of interest” from other clubs, but valued many things about his relationship with the Padres. As he rehabs back from Tommy John surgery, the 30-year-old hopes to start throwing from a mound in the middle of February.

Quick Hits: TV Revenues, Lester, Johnson, Moncada

Payroll parity has improved throughout baseball, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. A combination of TV deals and luxury taxes have contributed to evening the playing field between the big earners and the laggards. As Mets GM Sandy Anderson points out, “there are outliers in both directions.” Yet we’ve also seen traditionally cautious clubs like the Reds sign Joey Votto to a large contract and outbid the Yankees on two Cuban players. The advantage may cycle back to large market clubs as they hire the best talent away from smaller market. We’ve seen the Dodgers snap up key personnel from the Rays and A’s this offseason which also allowed the Cubs to snag former Rays manager Joe Maddon. Brewers GM Doug Melvin isn’t concerned, saying “more (front office personnel) doesn’t mean better.”

  • The Cubs and Red Sox will meet with Jon Lester this week, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. The Yankees could play the role of dark horse. While other sources have reported that Lester is willing to sign quickly, Gammons suggests the process may last into December.
  • Pitcher Josh Johnson is talking with five to six clubs, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Padres remain the righty hurler’s first choice, although nothing is imminent. My own thoughts: I’m not sure I see San Diego as a fit unless they trade from their current stock of starters. While pitcher friendly Petco Park is a good destination for Johnson as he seeks to reestablish himself, the Padres appear to have five starters and at least four depth pieces. Surely, another club can offer Johnson an easier path to starts.
  • Yoan Moncada‘s expected $30MM to $40MM price tag (reported on Nov. 12) isn’t the only impediment for interested clubs, writes Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Teams routinely reach handshake agreements with the next crop of international free agents well in advance of the July 2nd signing period. Any club who signs Moncada will not be able to sign an international player for over $300K, which would force many teams to rescind existing agreements. While that may not sound like a big issue, Badler describes Latin American scouting as a “small world.” A misstep could alienate the small cadre of influential trainers in the region. Moncada achieved free agency earlier today, although he has not yet been cleared by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Sherman On Burnett, Josh Johnson, Johan Santana

The latest from Joel Sherman of the New York Post…

  • Sherman notes that in the past, A.J. Burnett signed close to his Maryland home because his wife hated flying.  However, agent Darek Braunecker says this is no longer a restriction.  Sherman mentions previous interest from the Angels and Rangers.  Burnett is wise to expand his market, since teams like the Orioles, Mets, and Nationals are not generally looking to add starting pitching.
  • The Padres are working to re-sign Josh Johnson.  They already declined a $4MM option on the righty, who had Tommy John surgery in late April.  No deal is close for Johnson, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.
  • The Dodgers have let teams know they prefer to trade Andre Ethier and/or Carl Crawford and will listen on Matt Kemp.  The Dodgers are willing to kick in cash or take a bad contract back, and will pay more down for a better return in players.  This is one of the few ways teams can still use financial clout to purchase young talent, in my opinion.  Sherman says the Dodgers feel their current outfield situation is untenable, which fits with Ken Rosenthal’s report from Sunday.  In a poll of 28 baseball industry insiders by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Ethier was considered the most likely to be traded.
  • The Dodgers are also looking to add to their rotation and bullpen and are among the more interested suitors for Russell Martin.  The Dodgers were one of four teams recently revealed to have a meeting in place with Martin’s agent.
  • Johan Santana is “hellbent on coming back,” agent Chris Leible tells Sherman.  Santana, 36 in March, was close to returning to the Majors with the Orioles last summer after April 2013 shoulder surgery, but he ruptured his Achilles tendon in June.  Santana is currently jogging and playing catch.

Padres Decline Josh Johnson’s Option

The Padres announced that they have declined their $4MM club option on right-hander Josh Johnson. As MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets, the Friars are said to want to work out a lesser deal with Johnson and his representatives at Sosnick/Cobbe Sports.

Johnson, 31 in January, signed a one-year, $8MM contract with the Padres last offseason. That deal contained a clause stipulating that if Johnson were to make fewer than seven starts, the team would secure a $4MM club option for the 2015 season. Not only did Johnson fail to make seven starts, he didn’t take the mound at all in San Diego, as he fell victim to Tommy John surgery in April. Brock tweets that Johnson began a throwing program earlier this month and feels that he has “unfinished business” in San Diego.

Johnson’s injury history is lengthy, to put it mildly, but there’s no denying his status as one of baseball’s most talented pitchers when healthy. He owns a lifetime 3.40 ERA, but that number is skewed by some poor performances in injury-plagued seasons. During the best (and healthiest) stretch of his Major League career from 2009-11, Johnson posted a 2.64 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 453 innings with the Marlins. He’s a two-time All-Star that finished fourth in the 2006 Rookie of the Year voting and finished fifth in the 2010 Cy Young voting.