The San Diego Padres have agreed to sign right-hander Josh Johnson to a one-year, $8 million contract, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. MLBTradeRumors.com's Tim Dierkes notes that the deal also includes a clause that will allow Johnson to earn an additional $1.25 million if he makes 26 starts in 2014, and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Padres will hold a $4 million club option for 2015 if he makes less than seven starts.
Reports surfaced earlier in the day that Johnson had narrowed his list down to three or four finalists, and Dierkes reports that the Pirates were the runners-up in the race to sign him. Although Johnson expressed an interest in signing with the Giants, Crasnick notes that the Royals, White Sox and Astros were among the teams who were most seriously involved in bidding for him.
Johnson, who turns 30 in January, was 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA in sixteen starts for the Blue Jays due to a slew of injuries that kept him on the disabled list for most of the season. While he is expected to be fully recovered for spring training, the incentive-clauses in the contract reveal that teams still have medical concerns about Johnson, who has only reached 200 innings once in his career.
When healthy, Johnson has the ability to be one of the best pitchers in the game, as showcased by his 2010 season with the Marlins. In 28 starts that season, the right-hander was 11-6 with a 2.30 ERA, earning his second All-Star appearance and fifth place in the voting for the NL Cy Young award. In nine major league seasons with the Marlins (2005-2012) and Blue Jays (2013), Johnson is the owner of a lifetime 58-45 record and 3.40 ERA in 170 appearances (160 starts).
The Padres were not expected to have interest in starters this offseason, but Johnson's willingness to pitch in San Diego on a short-term deal allowed them to add a solid arm to their rotation on a low-risk and potentially high-reward type contract. Johnson joins a deep group of starters that already includes Ian Kennedy, Eric Stults, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Joe Wieland in San Diego.
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