Back in November, speaking to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, Josh Johnson's agent Matt Sosnick ruled out the chance of the Marlins signing his client long-term this winter:
"Based on our conversations, there's no chance of doing a long-term deal with the Marlins. We made it clear that it was going to be this year or it wasn't going to happen. It was now or never. And the Marlins agreed."
One issue at the time was the Marlins' unwillingness to add a fourth year, according to Sosnick. About a week later Marlins GM Michael Hill said publicly that Johnson would still open the 2010 season with his team.
A ray of hope surfaced on December 1st, when ESPN's Jayson Stark learned that the Marlins were still optimistic about signing Johnson (but they still didn't guarantee that fourth year). Later that day Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports suggested Johnson would accept a four-year, $42MM deal ($4MM more than Zack Greinke's deal). However, Sosnick said a few weeks later that Johnson would not sign a deal that did not "far exceed" Greinke's.
MLB.com's Joe Frisaro talked to Sosnick today. The agent sounded a bit more optimistic:
"We're doing everything we can to try to bridge the gap, and get a deal done. And we're wanting to do something that will keep J.J. in Florida for the long term."
Failing a long-term deal, the Marlins still need to hammer out a 2010 salary for Johnson as he enters his second arbitration year. Sticking with Greinke, he earned only $3.75MM in what would've been his second arb year. Cole Hamels will get $6.65MM. Scott Kazmir earned $6MM. Joe Blanton, who's been going year-to-year, earned $5.475MM. It will be interesting to see where Johnson lands; as a young ace in his second arb year he's in the same boat as Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez.