The Giants and right-hander Josh Johnson are in agreement on a minor league contract, per the MiLB Roster Tracker account on Twitter (MLBTR has confirmed the move). Set to turn 33 in January, Johnson hasn’t appeared in a Major League game since the 2013 season due a cavalcade of injury issues.
Most notably, Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery in early 2014 after signing a one-year, $8MM deal with the Padres the preceding offseason. Johnson re-upped with San Diego on a one-year deal worth about $1MM for the 2015 season, but his rehab was slowed by a nerve issue in his neck and recurring soreness in his elbow later that year. The 2015 season brought the third Tommy John surgery of Johnson’s career — a procedure from which he is now attempting to return.
While the odds are certainly stacked against Johnson, the allure is easy to see. When Johnson was healthy and at his best, he was a top-of-the-rotation talent, as evidenced by an NL-leading 2.30 ERA in 2011 and a collective 2.99 ERA in 644 1/3 innings from 2009-12 while anchoring the Marlins’ rotation. Injuries have routinely been a problem for Johnson throughout his professional career, though, and the right-hander’s last MLB action saw him post a 6.20 ERA through 81 1/3 innings in an injury-shortened season with the Blue Jays after being included in the Jose Reyes/Mark Buehrle blockbuster.
Johnson, obviously, is somewhat of a lottery ticket for the Giants and amounts to little more than a low-risk depth move. The team currently has a deep rotation mix including Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore as locks, with former ace Matt Cain and intriguing young lefty Ty Blach both serving as options in the No. 5 slot. The bullpen may be a better option for Johnson in his attempt to return from a three-year absence from a Major League field. The Giants have Hunter Strickland, Will Smith, Derek Law and George Kontos among those who will be penciled into the ’pen next season.