The New York Mets are poised to invest in some free agents this winter and even though the free agent market isn’t exactly brimming with talent there are a few players who figure to be available who can help right away. While much of the focus will be on the offense for the Mets there are a few pitchers the Mets can look at to bolster their rotation especially with Matt Harvey out for the year following Tommy John surgery. One player the Mets could look at is free agent starter Josh Johnson.
The Mets are familiar with Johnson from his days with the Florida/Miami Marlins. Johnson was part of the blockbuster trade between the Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays last winter but he fell well short of expectations along with the Blue Jays.
Johnson, who will turn 30 this January, is coming off an injury-plagued year that also saw him post some of the worst numbers in his career. He made only 16 starts and posted a 6.20 ERA while pitching to the tune of a 1.66 WHIP. However, in 2012 with the Marlins, Johnson posted a respectable 3.81 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and struck out 165 batters in 191 innings. Last month, Johnson had elbow surgery to clean out loose bodies in his elbow but he should be fully recovered and ready for spring training. Johnson has a history of injury but also one of tons of promise and a move back to the National League would be beneficial and Citi Field should be very accommodating to a pitcher like Johnson.
With a crowded rotation, the Blue Jays are not likely to offer Johnson a $14.1 million qualifying offer. That means any team that signs him won’t have to surrender a draft pick which could lead to a few teams showing interest in the right-hander. Given his terrible year and injury history the price shouldn’t get too out of hand which could put Johnson right in the Mets’ wheelhouse.
The Mets could slide Johnson in behind Jonathan Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler and form a very solid rotation even without Harvey. Johnson is a huge risk given his injury history but he could offer a huge reward for GM Sandy Alderson and the Mets. If he can stay healthy he should be able to return to the form that saw him win 15 games for the Marlins in 2009 with a 3.23 ERA.
Johnson, if he can stay healthy, could be the perfect addition for the Mets. The questions are whether a small bidding war erupts for his services and what his medical records show. The Mets would be foolish not to at least show interest in the veteran starter.