Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

An Open Letter to MLB teams regarding Josh Johnson

Dear Minnesota Twins any MLB team that could possibly want Josh Johnson,

In case you’ve decided to completely mail it in this season by taking an early vacation to Cabo, which wouldn’t be very timely considering that MLB players everywhere are being run through revocable waivers with the furiousness of Colby Rasmus on the base paths, you’ve most likely caught wind by now that the Toronto Blue Jays’ Josh Johnson has cleared waivers.

I know, I know, it’s not really that exciting. All this means is you can try to work out a trade with the Blue Jays for Johnson from now until the end of the season. Or by August 31, if you come from a city where October baseball is more than a pipe-dream in 2013 and for some reason feel that your rotation needs a starter with a 6.20 ERA to help get them over the hump.

Okay, so trading for an uncontrollable asset with less than two months left in the season isn’t exactly ideal. And yeah, you won’t even get a compensation pick if Johnson is traded to your team and doesn’t end up resigning. That’s probably why none of you even bothered making a waiver claim in the first place.

But come on Major League Baseball, this is Josh Johnson we are talking about! The same guy who was arguably baseball’s best pitcher in 2010. That wasn’t that long ago, right?

He just shut out the not terrible Seattle Mariners. Don’t mind the fact that John Gibbons had to cuddle coddle him after only 85 pitches. He’s going to be awesome next year – just ask Travis Bateman! The peripherals are all there. He just needs to get that dang 18.5% HR/FB rate below jet-cruise altitude and he’ll be all set. And how about that .356 BABIP? Unsustainable.

Now is your chance to add this prized asset to your organization. You are probably thinking “I’m not sure about this guy, he’s a free agent so why not just see how this season plays out and maybe we take a chance on him in the offseason?”

Yeah, that’s a great idea if you are the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers. But for you small markets teams out there, the time is now for you to go for Josh. This new reality was unfathomable five months ago but Johnson’s disaster of all disaster contract years is your blessing in disguise!

If you can swing a trade for Johnson you will take any leverage of a qualifying offer off the table. That’s enough to scare anyone into an under-market extension. Consider this your low-hanging fruit – one of the best pure talents in the game could be all yours to negotiate with the next seven weeks! And if you eat his entire $4 million remaining salary you will look like a hero to your loyal fan base. It’s marketing genius!

What would the asking price be? I’m sure you have the Ninja‘s number. Give him a ring. His phone is basically glued to his face so if he doesn’t pick up don’t worry, leave a message and he will return your call. He’s just probably on the other line working out the details of a Johnson trade with your division rival.

Yours truly,

Michael “just call me Wray” Wray

This is a purely fictional post. I am not aware of any actual interest in Josh Johnson and the only reason I originally wrote this letter to the Minnesota Twins as a response to the article on Puckett’s Pond about Johnson being a potential offseason target for the Twins.

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  • Justin Jay

    Nobody’s going to make a move on him. The scenario that happened this season was possibly the absolute worst regarding him. Sharp decline in velocity. Lots of stints on the DL which plagued his career. Brought nothing of value to the Jays, which makes it impossible to trade him to a contender. It also makes it unthinkable to make a qualifying offer since he’ll accept it… and no team may offer him much more than that amount over 2-3 yrs, nevermind 1. This deal somehow became a lose-lose and back when it was made, I think 29 fan bases in baseball didn’t see this coming… only the Marlins and some skeptics knew

    • Wally Fish

      Agree with everything except the decline in velocity. That part isn’t true based on the data though I haven’t looked at start by start numbers.

      According to the stats listed on FanGraphs, his overall velo in 2013 is basically a carbon copy of his 2012 numbers on all of his pitches. All the things you cite other than that is the exact reason why the Twins, or another team desperate (and I can’t stress that enough) for rotation arms should go after him this offseason (market size is immaterial here). For Minnesota It’s a case of buying low for a team with an atrocious rotation.

      Of course the recent news of forearm tightness and his pushed back start are just another case of “uh oh” in a career that has had far too many of those …

      • Justin Jay

        With Minnesota, it’s more of a matter of how do they feel about their farm system arms. Scott Diamond took a step back this season, but there are a few guys (Deduno) they have coming up that are pretty decent. I wouldn’t say there’s any distinct ace in the making, but a lot of #3-2 (more 3s than 2s.) Also, prior to this season, last season was Johnson’s worst as a pro. So while the 3.81 ERA looked pretty, it was apparently a facade of what he is… and in the AL East, it’s not that good. Prior to last season, Johnson’s fastball was 96-98 MPH and though I don’t have the data to prove it, I watched enough games with a friend that’s a Marlins fan to know that he was typically touching 97 MPH with the heater. 2012 was the 1st year back after surgery, so that’s why it may be a carbon copy. The biggest difference between this year and last is location. He’s leaving his FB over the plate way too often,

        • Wally Fish

          With Diamond it’s more like 2012 was a career year and 2013 is closer to what he really is. Deduno is a wonderful and intriguing piece and I’m confident that Kyle Gibson will wind up being successful in time. Beyond that though there are a ton of question marks (May’s control, Meyer’s health, Wimmers whatever it is) and #4s/#5s in the upper levels while their most talented arms are further (years) away.

          If his arm is healthy this offseason (certainly a big if) Johnson is worth a look for the Twins though they’re going to need to bring in several arms.

          • Justin Jay

            I’m with you on May’s assessment. He doesn’t really have a good secondary pitch, or at least one with good command. I think Meyer will be very good though.

            I like a healthy Mike Pelfrey. Correia drives me nuts because he’s like 2013 Dickey. Some starts, amazing, some starts “wtf is THIS?!” Deduno isn’t an ace, but he’s a #2 or #3. I think Meyer has much higher upside. Not an Ace, but a very good #2. Kyle Gibson needs to go to the pen and Swarzak should fill his spot. Then there’s Albers. His health determines how far he can go. A left-handed Deduno with maybe better control, less K/9.

            The Twins have taken a gamble on guys like Carl Pavano, so it doesn’t surprise me at all if they go after Johnson. I just don’t see how it improves their team. I think it may be better to trade a guy like Mauer, who’s still considered a “star,” and try to get an arm that way. Doutmit, if healthy, can play C and provides more pop anyway. Even maybe consider trading Morneau because Sano is on the way up and Plouffe is a better fielding 3B… though I doubt you’ll get much back. Morneau is a far cry from his MVP days unfortunately

      • Michael Wray

        Thanks for the comments Wally! You are right about his velocity being very similar to last year, which is one of the reasons I have trouble understanding exactly why Johnson has been so bad (at times) this year. I think some fans in Toronto did think we were getting Josh Johnson circa 2010 (or 2011 before the injury) but he’s not the same dominating pitcher that he was before his shoulder injury in 2011.

        I find that based on his “pedigree” and “stuff” many people want to continue to give Johnson a chance. But if I were a GM his injury history would scare the heck outta me and he doesn’t seem to be the type of guy that can pitch effectively when he’s not 100%. Someone will invest in him and in all likelihood it will be the Jays who give him a qualifying offer that he accepts with hopes of better results in 2014. But if he does hit the open market I think it would be very interesting as the Yankees have also previously expressed a desire to have him in pinstripes. Not sure what they would think of him now though. I disagree that market size is immaterial as certain organizations are more able to assume to the risk that comes with Johnson with hopes that he will eventually turn it around.