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Josh Johnson Rumors
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.
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 Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, Jesse Hahn Robbie Erlin and Odrisamer Despaigne, among others, in a deep rotation mix for the Padres.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Padres starter Josh Johnson finally began playing catch for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. The veteran righty is expected to begin a throwing program over the coming months.
The Padres hold a $4MM option over Johnson by virtue of his injury-shortened 2014 season. That could still be a steep price to pay given the uncertainty, though last year’s Gavin Floyd contract comes to mind as an equivalently-valued payout for a recovering pitching arm.
San Diego’s decision must be made within three days of the conclusion of the World Series, says Brock, meaning the club will have little time to gauge his progress before acting. As Brock notes, the Padres have a solid cast of rotation options already, though Johnson could make particular sense if the team is inclined to deal away one of its better pitching assets for help elsewhere.
As Brock previously reported, new GM A.J. Preller has said that the team has a “positive feel” for Johnson, though he implied that a straightforward exercise of the option may not be the likeliest scenario. “We’ll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him,” said Preller.
The team was clearly impressed by Johnson despite his inability to contribute on the field, as he was an active part of the organization during his rehab. For his part, Johnson expressed admiration for the way he was treated. “I look at it [his time in San Diego] as unfinished business,” said Johnson. “… I’ve actually learned more this year than any other year in the past put together. And as far as the organization goes, I couldn’t have hoped for anything better.”
Here’s the latest from the National League:
- Phillies starter A.J. Burnett seems more likely to retire (and forgo his $12.75MM player option) than many people believe, observes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com in an offseason preview piece. Meanwhile, the club will listen on Cole Hamels but continue to demand a ransom in return, while Philadelphia could be more open to dealing not only veteran Marlon Byrd but also arb-eligible outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. As Salisbury notes, the rotation has plenty of question marks and openings.
- While Salisbury says he believes the Phillies will ultimately hang onto the 30-year-old Hamels, for better or worse, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki argues that the organization must view Hamels (and his fellow core veterans) from a pure baseball perspective. Attendance is plummeting in spite of the continued presence of numerous pieces of the team’s run of success, he notes, and the only way to rebuild the fan base is through winning.
- Neutral talent evaluators believe that lefty Jon Niese is the Mets‘ best trade chip among the club’s veteran starters, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Niese, 27, threw to a 3.40 ERA over 187 2/3 frames in 2014. He is owed $16MM over the next two seasons and has a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, with respective $500K buyouts) thereafter.
- The Mets are expected to replace hitting coach Lamar Johnson, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. That move is still not official, however, and New York is in the early stages of assessing who they might bring in.
- Padres GM A.J. Preller is about to get his first taste of open market action from the seat of power, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Preller said that he anticipates a lot of trade attention on the team’s slate of arms, and indicated that he would be open to discussing any players if there’s a way to improve the club.
- One interesting player who remains under the Padres‘ control is starter Josh Johnson, whose injury-shortened year left the club with a $4MM team option. Preller said that he hopes to have Johnson in the fold next year, though left unclear whether the team is interested in a straight exercise of the option. “With Josh, he’s a guy that everyone has a positive feel for,” said Preller. “We’ll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him.”
The Dodgers hold a 20-19 record and have yet to live up to their preseason billing as World Series contenders, Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown writes. L.A. leads the National League in errors and have played uninspired baseball at times, though Brown reminds us that the Dodgers had a much worse record in May 2013 before they caught fire in the summer. Here’s the latest from around the NL West…
- With the Diamondbacks 10 games out of first place and the Padres 6.5 games behind the division-leading Giants, ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required) places two players from each team on his list of 10 players who could be moved at the trade deadline. Bowden feels that Aaron Hill, Martin Prado, Chase Headley and Huston Street could all be dealt if the Snakes and Friars can’t get their seasons turned around.
- Speaking of those first-place Giants, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal feels the franchise is still somewhat overlooked as a baseball power despite winning two of the last four World Series titles. GM Brian Sabean’s ability to put together quality bullpens has been underrated, as Rosenthal points out how the Giants have consistently turned little-regarded pitchers into valuable relievers.
- While recovering from Tommy John surgery, Josh Johnson is trying to make the most of his time on the DL by helping mentor the Padres‘ young pitchers, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports.