The Value of Josh Johnson

In a poll at MLBtraderumors (http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/09/poll-should-josh-johnson-receive-a-qualifying-offer.html)  72 per cent of respondents say the Jays shouldn’t extend Josh Johnson a qualifying offer.

It’s not a terribly surprising number based on his year, but the fact more than a quarter of the respondents said he should – and also the fact the good people at the website thought it was a worthwhile poll – shows just how varied the opinions are on the big righty. 

For many, the thought of Johnson pitching next year for $14 million is ludicrous. I wouldn’t mind it at all. Really, if Johnson had the season he just had but was still with the Marlins, Jays fans would likely go into the off season with Johnson tagged as a great “buy low” possibility. I think the fact fans watched first hand just how bad he was this season, coupled with the overall stink of the entire season, clouds their perception of Johnson.

The simple truth is the Jays need pitching help. And while it may not be as dire as some think, there’s not a lot on the free agent market. You’ve got to assume management had money earmarked for a Johnson extension. So let’s say the 2014 budget was approved for all the raises to current players, as well as something like $14-18 million for Johnson. You could use that money to go after another pitcher. Matt Garza or Ervin Santana perhaps. You could extend a qualifying offer Johnson would likely accept, or you could not extend the offer and try to sign him to some deal for less money.

My feeling is teams are going to drastically overpay for starting pitching this offseason. There’s not a lot out there and there are always teams looking to upgrade their rotations. And it’s not necessarily going to be an overpay in terms of AAV, but it’s going to be an overpay in terms of years. Despite a hairy payroll situation this year and next, the long term payroll issues are nearly non existent, with tons of money coming off the books after 2015.

So why not potentially overpay on a one year deal? After all, there’s no such thing as a bad one year deal, and Johnson’s the only free agent you can potentially get on a one year deal. At least, he’s the only one who could still be a game changer.

And as I said yesterday, I don’t think you need to commit big dollars to shore up the lineup. Just finding decent replacements at second base and catcher, especially in terms of defence, makes the 2014 lineup vastly improved. Left field is up in the air, but I’m comfortable with a Melky-Anthony Gose situation. Or bring back Rajai Davis, who can be an ok option.

The point is, the lineup can be fixed without committing big dollars. I’d love a Curtis Granderson signing, but it’s certainly not needed.

Give Johnson a chance to re-establish his value. You basically know what you’re getting with Buehrle and Dickey – though I’d say Dickey has some more upside. You’ve got some young guys that can fill in the number five spot. Hope one of Johnson or Morrow can be a consistent top of the rotation guy and things are looking ok. Sign or make a trade for a reliable mid or bottom of the rotation starter and the pitching staff is looking pretty decent.

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