Continuing the Trade Target Profiles today with Josh Johnson, who has peaked the interest of many Rangers fans over the last couple of days. With Cole Hamels off the market and the unsavory thought of Greinke being nothing more than a 3 month rental, Johnson’s attractiveness shot up the charts quickly.
Joshua Michael Johnson
Johnson has long been a player of desire for Rangers fans, primarily due to the fact that the Marlins are always a volatile team when it comes to the trade market – either buying or selling big every season.
The 28 year-old Johnson grew up in Oklahoma, which has been used in the media recently as a reason why he would be a logical trade target for the Rangers – being closer to home would make him happier. Also floated out there for the media to gobble up is that his wife wouldn’t mind being closer to her family…in Orange County. Seems the Marlins are pandering to the Rangers and Angels…bidding war anyone?
Johnson is a two-time All-Star and finished fifth in the 2010 NL Cy Young voting. Since his first full season in 2006, he hasn’t necessarily been the model of consistency in regards to playing time and health, only surpassing the 20 games pitched mark three times in his career (2006, 2009, 2010).
After a successful rookie campaign in 2006, Johnson had issues early in 2007 and was eventually shut down and had to undergo Tommy John surgery which caused him to miss the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.
Similar to Greinke, he has one season (2010) that stands out on paper as a season of dominance, but his 2009 numbers were very strong as well and he was well on his way to a dominant 2011 before being shut down early due to inflammation in his right shoulder.
All that said, this dude is a stud and I don’t view him as any more of an injury risk than any other alternative.
As noted, the contact situation is attractive here because we’re not dealing with a 3-month rental. Johnson’s contract pays him $13.75M this year and the same in 2013.
|162 Game Avg.||13||7||3.14||35||1||208||189||13||68||190||134||1.237||2.78|
- Exceeded 200 innings only once in his young career (2009)
- Current WAR is 1.7, which is lower than Harrison, Darvish and Colby Lewis (R.I.P. Colbra), but a 6.4 in 2009 and a 6.8 in 2012 far surpass the high-marks of any current Rangers starting pitchers.
- Similar players of note in terms of performance (according to Baseball-Reference.com) are:
- Clayton Kershaw, Jair Jurrjens & Adam Wainwright for career
- David Cone, Adam Wainwright and Orel Hershiser for similarity thorugh age 27 (2011 season for Johnson)
- While his career has been brief and subject to time away for recovery, Johnson has been a better first half pitcher, posting second half marks of 3.83 ERA (compared to 2.71 in first half) a 1.318 WHIP (compared to 1.186 in first half)
- Johnson has faced the Rangers only once in his career, shutting down the Rangers offense in 2010 by pitching seven strong innings, striking out 7 and giving up only one run on 1 walk and 4 hits…in a no-decision.
- Johnson has never faced the Angels, A’s or Mariners.
Could Josh be a Ranger?
Most prefer Johnson to Greinke at this point. Neither player is having a career year by any standards, but both have the make-up and ability to be dominant aces on the mound.
The Marlins have put the word out that there is only a 5% chance that Johnson is dealt away this season. They have already made to big trades this season as their fire sale is well under way – sending Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers and sending Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers.
It’s also well known that the Marlins current asking price for Johnson is very steep. While this may be posturing on there part, you have to figure it’s higher than what could be expected for Greinke (rental).
What would the Rangers have to give up to land Johnson? Given the Marlins dealt away there third baseman (Ramirez), you have to assume that Mike Olt (recurring theme of these trade discussions) would be involved in any package. Beyond Olt, I could see another lower-tiered prospect or two being involved. An interesting scenario that I have only seen discussed once (so it’s probably not going to happen) would have the Marlins including super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio in a deal to the Rangers, with the Rangers increasing their package beyond Olt to include a more highly rated pitching prospect.
Just gonna float this out there:
- Rangers give Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and a player to be named (marginal prospect at best)
- Marlins give Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio – with no help on Johnson’s contract.
***Bonifacio would be under the Rangers control through 2015 and has good value as a switch hitter that can play just about any where in the field.
While many are putting better odds on a deal for Greinke occurring (lower asking price, history with Doug Melvin), I think a deal for Josh Johnson is possible. The Marlins are in a complete rebuilding phase now and know that the return they could net for Johnson will never see a higher point.
Who’s next? James Shields is on deck unless I get another request…