Indians Offseason Target: Josh Johnson


Jul 22, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Josh Johnson (55) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

As the Indians  build their roster for the 2015 season, Wahoo’s on First will be breaking down players that the Indians could target into one of three categories – Ugly, Ruggedly Handsome, and Sexy.

An Ugly player (easy to spot warts) is a player that will be signed to a minor league contract that is coming off poor performance or has battled injury. The contract will more than likely be a minor league deal with an invite to spring training but could also include a major league salary if the player makes opening day roster.

The Ruggedly Handsome (multiple teams will be targeting) player is defined as a player that doesn’t have a qualifying offer attached to them, is more than likely going to sign a 1-2 year deal ranging anywhere from $7MM for a 1-year deal to over $20MM for a two year deal.

The Sexy player (top-tier free agent) is a free agent that will command a multi-year deal and may cost a draft pick. These players are considered franchise changers or the last piece of the puzzle depending on your view of where the Indians stand heading into the winter.

I brought up the name of Josh Johnson to some friends and I was surprised at the responses I garnered. It has recently been noted that he is willing to come back and pitch again in 2015 for a discount after missing all of 2014 with his 2nd  Tommy John surgery. A discount for a pitcher like Johnson is music to Cleveland’s front office’s ears.

Free Agent List: Ugly

2014 Salary/Contract

Status: Free agent for the 2015 season, coming off a 1 year deal with San Diego worth $8 million. If he is taking a discount off from his total of last year, could a major league deal be something in the ballpark of $4 million, or is he going to be amongst the bargain basement minor league deal types like Scott Kazmir, Aaron Harang before him?

Past Two Seasons: Johnson missed all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery, delaying a return to the NL and the spacious Petco Park that would have surely helped the homer prone starter’s value for 2015. In 2013, Johnson was plagued by random injuries, ending up with a 2-8 record, 6.00 ERA and only 83 strikeouts in his final season with the Florida/Miami Marlins.

Why Cleveland?: The rotation is the last thing most would think needs help, but having a veteran arm to kick around with would be helpful. Mickey Callaway is a genius when it comes to rehabilitating pitchers, and some time with Johnson would more than likely do wonders, a la Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez. The rotation seems set for next year, headlined by Corey Kluber and armed with great depth in Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, and TJ House. The depth of options behind them in Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin make Johnson an unnecessary risk, but adding arms, especially on a minor league deal would be is something that should be done by every team. The depth the Indians could have next year make the upside of Johnson, someone with 200 strikeout potential and an All Star pedigree, a risk worth taking.