An inconsistent, injury-plagued 2013 wasn't enough to scare off the San Diego Padres from free-agent starter Josh Johnson, as the team is betting on a bounce-back year for the former Cy Young candidate.
According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, the two sides have agreed upon a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $8 million.
"The deal includes an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses if Johnson makes 26 starts, the source said. Johnson was in San Diego for a physical exam Tuesday and the contract is expected to be announced by the club Wednesday," Crasnick reports.
Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan adds a unique detail about the contract:
Interesting twist to Josh Johnson's $8M deal with Padres. If he makes fewer than seven starts, San Diego gets a $4M club option for 2015.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 20, 2013
Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press had reaction from the Padres' organization on the signing:
GM Josh Byrnes says #Padres want to be an October team & signing RHP Josh Johnson is a step in that direction.— Bernie Wilson (@berniewilson) November 20, 2013
And skipper Buddy Black says he's "really really pumped" to have Josh Johnson here. Nothing like being pumped on a Wednesday morning.— Bernie Wilson (@berniewilson) November 20, 2013
Josh Byrnes says Josh Johnson should be full-go by spring training. JJ had bone spurs removed from elbow on Oct. 1.— Bernie Wilson (@berniewilson) November 20, 2013
During his time with the Florida/Miami Marlins, Johnson was quietly establishing himself as one of the premier pitchers in the league, compiling a 2.99 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 8.4 SO/9 ratio in 101 starts from 2009 to 2012.
In 2010, he led the league with a 2.30 ERA, finishing fifth in the NL Cy Young voting.
Good move by the Padres?
Johnson was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays last November, but his first season in the American League didn't go as planned (to say the least). Only available for 16 starts due to triceps (which kept him out for four starts in May) and forearm (which kept him out from August through the end of the season) injuries, he finished with a dismal 2-8 record, 6.20 ERA and 1.66 WHIP.
Nevertheless, he had an xFIP of 3.58, per FanGraphs, suggesting he may have pitched better than the numbers indicate. Moreover, the friendly confines of Petco Park should certainly help kickstart a career resurgence.
There are undoubtedly concerns with Johnson's injury history, but this is essentially a low-risk, high-reward situation for Bud Black and the Padres.
Josh Johnson will look to improve a Padres pitching staff that finished 11th in the National League in ERA last season.