At 45-49, 11.5 games out of first place in the American League East, and 8.5 games out of the wild card hunt, the Toronto Blue Jays are a team in need of a lift. The last thing they need to do is subtract from an already stretched pitching staff.
That appears to be the thinking of Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays front office, who appear will not be trading starter Josh Johnson prior to the trade deadline. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweeted earlier today that he is hearing from Rival executives that Toronto doesn’t intend to shop the right-hander.
Rival execs hearing #bluejays have no plans to shop Josh Johnson at trade deadline. It appears he's staying put.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 17, 2013
Unfortunately, Johnson has failed to meet the expectations that fans have had for him, posting a 1-5 record, a 5.16 ERA, and a 9.1 K/9 ratio in 12 starts this season. However, Johnson’s number would indicate that he should be better as he has a 3.56 xFIP and has been the victim of a high .327 BABIP, which will likely improve as the season goes on.
That said, Johnson’s biggest struggle has been with his health, as he’s missed the entire month of May with a right-triceps injury.
By keeping Johnson, the Blue Jays would be signalling their desire to extend him a qualifying offer. This would allow Toronto to recoup a compensation pick should he sign elsewhere as an impending free agent, which would give them three picks between the first round and the compensation round in the 2014 draft.
It is an intriguing gamble that Johnson would accept the offer, playing for roughly $13.5 million. If they get a healthy Josh Johnson that is looking to rebuild his value after a down year, that would be a worthwhile gamble.
But if he struggles to take his turn in the rotation consistently, as he has in 2013, that could dig the grave for next year’s Blue Jays as well.