It’s looking increasingly likely that free agent starter Josh Johnson will sign with a team other than the Toronto Blue Jays. Johnson appears to be moving closer to signing a contract, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos said on Prime Time Sports Tuesday that he expects the right-hander to find more appealing options with other teams.
“I followed up last week just to see where they were at with it,” Anthopoulos said. “The door is still open, the conversation is still there, but I get the sense that there might be better options for him in some other spots.”
The Pittsburgh Pirates are on a list of three or four finalists for Johnson, agent Matt Sosnick told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Tuesday. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that Johnson had informed the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres that they were his top choices.
Johnson is expected to seek a one-year deal to prove that his disappointing 2013 season was an aberration. A return to the National League could help the 29-year-old achieve his objective in a more pitcher-friendly environment.
Johnson made 16 starts for the Blue Jays in 2013, posting a 6.20 ERA in 81.1 innings before finishing the season on the disabled list and undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur and loose bodies from his elbow. Earlier this month, Johnson told Shi Davidi that he hadn’t fully ruled out the possibility of a return to the Blue Jays.
"It’s tough to be (in Toronto) for only one year and to have that bad of a year, it’s disappointing,” he said. “Now I get thrown into free agency and get to experience it a little bit and see what it’s about. Excited, but still a little disappointed in how last year went."
The Blue Jays declined to offer Johnson a qualifying offer meaning he can sign without restriction. The Blue Jays are ineligible to receive draft pick compensation should he leave Toronto.
“For us right now there are a lot of balls in the air and there are a lot of options and you’re trying to weigh the risk and the reward,” Anthopoulos said. “Not to say we won’t take some risk, but again it comes down to how much you’re going to be paying for that risk, the opportunity cost. There’s obviously a lot of other guys out there that we still could get.”