There will be no long-term contract for pitcher Josh Johnson with the Florida Marlins this winter, his agent said Friday.Hmmmmm, interesting call. Why on earth would the Marlins not give Johnson a fourth year? Here are my top three reasons why:
Agent Matt Sosnick told ESPN.com that negotiations between the Marlins and Johnson have reached an "impasse," and Johnson expects to play under a one-year deal in 2010. Johnson will be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, and a failure to reach agreement on a multiyear contract would probably force the Marlins to explore a trade before then.
"Based on our conversations, there's no chance of doing a long-term deal with the Marlins," Sosnick said. "We made it clear that it was going to be this year or it wasn't going to happen. It was now or never. And the Marlins agreed."
"Josh made it clear that his first choice was to sign a deal and stay with the Marlins," Sosnick said. "He loves the Marlins and he loves Florida. We were willing to give the Marlins what we thought was a significant break, but they just weren't comfortable going to the fourth year."
1. Injury risk
-Johnson is only a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery so in theory, there is risk in giving him a long term deal.
2. Being cheap
-The Marlins are a notoriously frugal franchise and they rarely sign their homegrown talent to long term contracts.
-I honestly cannot remember the last time the Marlins signed a pitcher to a long term deal.
No matter what the reason is, the Marlins come off looking awfully cheap here. With a new stadium set to open in the near future, most people assumed that the Marlins would be more aggressive with signing players and spending. No one expected them to ever spend like the Yankees, but anything is an improvement over a $30 million dollar payroll.
This has to be a hard pill for Marlins fans to swallow. Johnson is only 25 years old and could have been under team control at a reasonable price for the next four years, instead of two years. Hell, the opportunity was perfect for the Marlins. Johnson has the ability to be one of the top 10 pitchers in all of baseball, but he was willing to take a contract extension now because:
a. he loved Florida
b. he pitched only 1 full season after Tommy John surgery
c. he was under team control for the next two seasons and would have accepted buying out two free agent years in return for a pay raise in 2010 and 2011.
Now the question turns to this: will the Marlins look to trade Johnson this winter? Considering how high Johnson's value is combined with the limited number of impact free agent starting pitchers on the market, I would say that now is the optimal time to trade Johnson. The team that trades for him will control his rights for two full seasons, which should bring back a large package for the Marlins.
Did the Marlins make a mistake here? Should they have guaranteed Johnson a fourth year?
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