Veteran righty Josh Johnson has decided to retire, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). The 32-year-old had agreed to a minor-league deal with the Giants for the 2017 season but will instead hang up his spikes.
Johnson was working his way back from Tommy John surgery — his third such procedure — and would have faced an uphill battle to crack the San Francisco roster. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013, owing to a series of arm injuries.
Johnson’s most recent big league campaign was his least successful, as he struggled to a 6.20 ERA — but still racked up 9.2 K/9 — over 81 1/3 innings in his lone season with the Blue Jays. Before that, though, he had provided the Marlins with eight seasons of largely outstanding work. Over nearly 1,000 innings in Miami, Johnson pitched to a 3.15 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9.
Since wrapping up his time in Toronto, Johnson twice signed agreements with the Padres in hopes of sparking a return to form. But he was stopped short by injury and never threw a pitch for San Diego, which had invested a total of $9MM in hopes of securing a bargain.
At his best, Johnson was one of the game’s most dominant starters, as he worked off of a mid-nineties heater to post strong strikeout tallies and induce mostly weak contact. His 2010 campaign, at age 26, was his best overall effort. He threw 183 2/3 innings over 28 starts, posting a 2.30 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9, picking up his second-straight All-Star nod and coming in fifth in the National League Cy Young vote.
While it’s tempting to view Johnson’s career as a disappointment, given his lofty peak and evident talent, it’s hard to fault him for the physical ailments that derailed him before his thirtieth birthday. Even after accounting for his forgettable year in Toronto, Johnson posted 21.3 fWAR and 23.8 rWAR over his parts of nine total MLB seasons. MLBTR wishes Johnson the very best as he moves on to the next phase of his life.