According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, the Toronto Blue Jays are still considering whether or not to extend a qualifying offer to impending free agent Josh Johnson. The team has until 5:00pm on Monday to make a decision and all indications are that they will use almost all of that time in which to assess their options.
The one factor that is complicating matters is without a doubt the pitcher’s health. As it has been throughout his career, Johnson suffered numerous setbacks with with his pitching arm this season, including triceps tightness, forearm tightness, and eventual elbow surgery to remove bone spurs.
As noted by Davidi, the Blue Jays doctors will assess Johnson’s health in order to make the best decision possible before extending a qualifying offer worth $14.1 million.
In a normal environment, the Blue Jays would have no problem making this decision. However, Johnson’s performance on the mound in 2013, when he posted a 2-8 record with a 6.20 ERA and surrendered home runs at an ungodly clip, coupled with his health concerns would generally make him a non-tender. However, with the pitching market as it is this winter and Toronto’s obvious need to improve in that department, the decision becomes a bit more complicated, perhaps forcing Toronto to extend the offer in the chances that he will take it and bounce back, or in the very least someone else takes a flyer on him and Toronto gets a compensatory draft pick in return.
Even Matt Sosnick, Josh Johnson’s agent, admits the decision is tougher than it seems.
“I can see good reasons to qualify him or not qualify him. We’ll wait to see what he (Alex Anthopoulos) decides.”
Extending the offer to Johnson will likely result in the 29-year-old accepting it in hopes of rebuilding his value before hitting the free agent market again next year. There is a good chance that Johnson comes back strong in 2014, and the Blue Jays would likely want to see some return on the investment they made to bring Johnson to Toronto in the first place, sending Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick, and a handful of other prospects to the Marlins in exchange for Johnson, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle.
The question comes is if $14.1 million is a worthwhile risk to take on a bounceback or if that money would be better spent elsewhere. With the Blue Jays being on the hook for an additional $10 million in salary for Mark Buehrle as well, they may want more of a sure thing for that investment.
We’ll have to wait to find out on Monday afternoon if that offer is made. In the meantime, we’ll all be wondering which path is best for the Blue Jays.