Former Marlins' ace Josh Johnson has reached out to the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres, letting them know that they were his top choices for where he wanted to land. One major league executive expected him to be the next significant hurler to sign after Tim Hudson's deal with the Giants (Which could take them out of the running for Johnson). His agent Matt Sosnick said that Johnson had narrowed down his choices to three or four teams, including the Pirates. According to MLBTR writer Tim Dierkes, the finalists are National League teams and likely include some on the West Coast.
The 29-year old is reportedly looking for a one year deal to rebuild his value after a dreadful season in which he went 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA in 16 starts, but also struck out 83 hitters in 81 innings. His batting average on balls in play and home run per fly ball rates were double his career norm, possibly suggesting an outlier. From 2009-2012, Johnson posted a 2.99 ERA in 101 starts, a statline that led the Toronto Blue Jays to acquire him with Jose Reyes in exchange for a package of young talent. A team could look to gamble that he regains his previous form by signing him to an incentive-laden contract. The deal would allow him to regain value and secure a bigger contract next offseason. He currently resides in Las Vegas, and after spending his career in Miami and Toronto, is looking for a team closer to home.
The Padres could potentially have interest in Johnson, if the price is right. I would hope that the Padres at least made the call to inquire about what he would cost. A healthy Josh Johnson could slide into the "ace" role for San Diego, a role he was used to in Miami and wouldn't be able to have in San Francisco or Pittsburgh. He would be an excellent mentor to young pitchers like Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, and could easily post an ERA under 3.00 in a still spacious PETCO Park.
If I were Josh Byrnes, I'd be pulling the trigger, assuming that he isn't asking for some asinine amount of money. This looks like a possible playoff rotation, if healthy:
SP Josh Johnson
SP Andrew Cashner
SP Tyson Ross
SP Ian Kennedy
SP Cory Luebke