When healthy, Josh Johnson is a terrific pitcher (2.97 FIP and 3.1 fWAR this season). He’ll turn 29 in January, and is under contract for this season and next at $13.75-million each.
Naturally, he’s being coveted on the trade market, though reports– like this tweet from Buster Olney– suggest that they had originally planned on only trading one of Johnson or Hanley Ramirez, who was shipped off in the middle of the night to Los Angeles.
The Jays’ name continues to come up in the rumours surrounding Johnson– Jon Morosi tweets that an executive tells him that he expects the Jays among the teams to make a push, for example. This is partly because Alex Anthopoulos has made it club policy to check on everything, but also partly because dealing for Johnson would make a hell of a lot of sense for the Jays.
The need for pitching in Toronto right now is painfully obvious, and the fact that Johnson would be able to help them next year makes him all the more attractive a commodity. Add in that the Jays, despite most of their high-end prospect assets being farther from the big leagues than desirable, have redundancies in areas that could help Miami, and you could have the makings of a deal. That is, if the Jays wanted to be aggressive enough to offer one of centre fielders and/or one of their shortstops.
With Ramirez gone, the Marlins have a spot at third base where Yunel Escobar could slot in, and at a much cheaper rate, on a much more team-friendly deal, and potentially for longer than Hanley was signed on for. Anthony Gose could also have a lot of interest there– or Jake Marisnick– because, as Dave Cameron pointed out yesterday at FanGraphs, Miami could use a centre-fielder-of-the-future.
Of course, good as he is, five-and-a-half years of Gose and three-and-a-half of Escobar seems like a ridiculously hefty price to pay for just one-and-a-half of Johnson– though perhaps mitigated by the fact that Johnson would recoup a draft pick if he walks after 2013. Still, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be both. But it will take something special to land him– including, one presumes, taking on the entire rest of his contract– as it’s being rumored that the Texas Rangers are mulling whether to include high-end prospect Mike Olt to the mix.
That rumour comes via a tweet by Evan Grant– the heart and soul of the Dallas Morning news– who adds that the suggestion may just be a ploy by the Marlins to increase the market for their pitcher.
If there’s real merit to his inclusion, though, it’s worth pointing out that Olt was 75th on Keith Law’s pre-season top 100 for ESPN.com (behind Gose, who was 59th), and 45th on Kevin Goldstein’s list at Baseball Prospectus– ahead of Gose (68) but behind Marisnick (58).
Do the Jays get cold feet when we start talking about parting with prospects so highly rated? I argued two weeks ago that they shouldn’t be afraid, but I don’t know… I just wonder if, once again, they’re going to find themselves outbid by clubs who are more aggressively win-now. If the market goes crazy, it’s likely going to take an over-pay to get a guy like Johnson, and we know how Anthopoulos feels about those.
The amount by which they might have to over pay matters, of course, but you’d hate to see a guy like this land somewhere else, when you know damn well that the Jays should have the pieces to land just about anybody, if they’re willing to use them– and that they probably could get away with making a deal without breaking up the Lansing Three or including Dan Norris, either.
I’m totally just spitballin’, of course, but… what a piece Johnson would be for the 2013 Jays. And if they’re dealing from redundancies… why not?
Image via Marc Serota/Getty.