Two days after pledging to raise payroll, the Marlins locked up pitcher Josh Johnson to a long-term deal, reaching agreement on a four-year contract that pays $39 million. The deal was confirmed Thursday by the pitcher’s agent, Matt Sosnick.
“To know where I’m gonna be the next four years, you can’t really put it into words,” Johnson said. “Hopefully I can throw the first pitch in the new ballpark. Not too many people can say that.”
Johnson is the first Marlins pitcher to have a long-term contract since Jeffrey Loria took over as owner in 2002.
The Marlins are buying out Johnson’s final two years of arbitration and also securing his first two years of free agency.
The year-by-year breakdown for Johnson’s contract: $3.75 million in 2010, $7.75 million in 2011, $13.75 million in 2012 and $13.75 million in 2013.
Johnson, who turns 26 on Jan. 31, was the team’s fourth-round draft pick in 2002 and quickly rose through the minor-league ranks before making his debut in ’05.
But he sustained an arm injury toward the end of the 2006 season, and after an unsuccessful comeback bid the following year, underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery on his pitching arm.
Johnson made his way back toward the end of the ’08 season, going 7-1, and confirmed his status as one of the league’s elite pitchers last season when he started the first half of the year with an 8-2 record and a 2.74 ERA. He also earned his first All-Star team selection.
While Johnson pitched very well the last two years, one has to remember he had Tommy John surgery in 2007. He’s 26, and pitchers of that age who undergo serious arm surgery have a greater risk of recurrence.
As for the big deal the Marlins made, they could still try to trade Johnson before those hefty payments have to be made in 2011, 12, and 13. I wouldn’t designate the Johnson signing as a permanent change of team policy quite yet.
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