Josh Johnson made it clear he wanted to go to a west coast team, preferably the Padres or Giants. On Tuesday, he agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with San Diego. Should the Phillies have made a bigger push?
Johnson's contract is quite affordable and matches up almost perfectly with most projections. He can earn $1.25 million in incentives if he makes 26 starts, something he's done only three times in his nine-year career.
It would have taken more money for the Phillies to pry Johnson away from his west coast desires, maybe something like one-year, $10MM with the chance to earn $12 million. All along, Johnson was seeking a one-year contract that would allow him to reestablish his value for next offseason, when he hopes to sign a long-term deal.
Would you have committed $10 million to Johnson for 2014? If everything broke right, he'd slot in behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee and be the dominant righty he was from 2009-11 in Miami, when he went 29-12 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 70 starts. At his peak, Johnson was one of the top five starters in the NL.
If things went wrong, you'd be out $10 million, which would be tough to swallow for a team with other sunk costs (Ryan Howard, Mike Adams) and plenty of needs.
But San Diego shrewdly protected itself with a 2015 club option. If Johnson makes fewer than seven starts, the Padres can bring him back for just $4 million the following year. It's a savvy move by the Padres, one you don't see in too many contracts.
The Phillies have seemed more interested this offseason in minimizing risk and adding reliability -- i.e. Bronson Arroyo. With all the injuries they've suffered in recent years, it's hard to argue with their preference to add someone they know will make 30-plus starts. Johnson is the antithesis of that.
But the Phils are also a team that needs high-reward signings to pan out to be competitive in 2014. They need to find the Josh Reddick of two years ago, the Jed Lowrie of 2013. They need to find impact talent without doling out another multi-year deal. On one hand, this feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. On the other, $10 million is a lot for a lottery ticket.