Pirates Are on Josh Johnson’s Short List

Yesterday there was a rumor that Josh Johnson preferred the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres, due to the proximity to his home in Las Vegas. Today, Travis Sawchik reports via Johnson’s agent that the right-hander has the Pirates on his short list of teams.

Sawchik also says that Johnson has narrowed his list to 3-4 teams.

It would make sense that Johnson would be considering the Pirates after the success they’ve had the last two years with A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano. Johnson is viewed as the biggest bounce back candidate on the open market, and his odds of bouncing back would seemingly be much better in the Pirates’ system. He’s a ground ball pitcher who could use some mechanical adjustments. Liriano and Burnett have had success because of some adjustments by Ray Searage, combined with the defensive shifts by the Pirates infield to improve the efficiency of ground ball pitchers.

Johnson probably wouldn’t come as cheap as Burnett ($10 M per year) or Liriano (most likely $6+ M per year). For one, there’s the new money coming into baseball that has been raising prices. There’s also the fact that he’s seen as a guy who could bounce back rather easily. That wasn’t the case with Burnett and Liriano. As a result, Johnson will be in more demand and will command a higher price. It’s good to see that the Pirates could be finalists, but I don’t know if this means the Pirates will be signing Johnson.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • leadoff

    If the Pirates got Johnson, that more than likely would be the end of A.J. I would presume.

    • stickyweb

      Or keep AJ for another year and trade Liriano. Or keep those 3 and trade Morton. But I think Frankie brings back a lot more than Chawlie at this point. But what can you count on Johnson being at this point, a #4 starter or #5? Obviously you hope he puts it all back together like Liriano did, but you can’t count on that. Of course, if he does, then every bounce back candidate for the next 10 years should want to come here to be coached by Searage.

      • https://www.facebook.com/scott.skink Scott Skink

        Why not keep both AJ and Liriano AND add JJ? Most of what I’m hearing is that Nutting will authorize payroll in the $90mill range. They’re at $63 or so now. Add AJ at $12, JJ at $10, add Loney for $8 or so, that’s $96.

        Personally I’d draw the line in the sand this year and go all in for $95-100 mill. This is probably Bucs best shot to win the NL this decade. Not that they won’t be competitive in future years but 2014 will have Liriano, AJ (if playing), Martin, probably Morton, all in final years as a Pirate.

        If Nutting would go $90 mill, then spend the extra $5-$10 and take the shot. A quick start to the season and increased gate will make up a bunch of that expense.

  • stickyweb

    You had my hopes up until I saw that it was an agent that said this. He’s probably just trying to drive up the cost for one of the West Coast teams by saying the Bucs have a chance. I won’t believe it until he actually signs with them.

    On another note, does anyone remember the good old days when $10 – $12 million a year would get you a a really good pitcher? Not an ace necessarily, but certainly someone to be counted on as a #2 or #3. Seems like it was only a couple of years ago. Now it gets you a “bounce back” candidate that you hope isn’t starting a downward trend.

  • CalipariFan506

    Well at least if the Padres are another option we know he’s interested in restoring future value. Not a big pay day now.

  • WTM

    The Pirates have traded Kris Johnson to the Twins for none other than Duke Welker.

    • https://profiles.google.com/107500598404660809214 Kerry Writtenhouse

      Did Welker throw too hard for the twinkies?

  • Andrew

    I love how fans think Wandy Rodriguez will not pitch an inning next year because the player mentioned arthritis once, but Johnson is viewed as a high yield bond despite removal of bone spurs.

    If this is going to happen, it will need to happen quick because if the Giants are one of the other teams I do not think the Pirates will win a biding war. Let alone I do not remember at time when the Pirates engaged in a bidding war.

    • CalipariFan506

      I for one don’t think Wandy’s injury will keep him sidelined. IMO it’s more want to pitch with him. He is taking his money and riding off into the sunset.

    • https://www.facebook.com/arik.florimonte Arik Florimonte

      The only bidding war I can recall is when they were bidding against themselves. Don’t recall if that was for Meares, or maybe Sprague? Must have blocked it out.

  • HopkinsFC

    I presume SF is out after signing Hudson.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

    If Johnson comes to Pittsburgh, Searage and Benedict need to get to work on his mechanics from the stretch, pronto. Have you seen this guy’s splits relative to bases empty/runners on?

    Bases empty: .240/.297/.398
    Runners on: .392/.446/.608

    There’s probably an injury effect in those stretch numbers, but still…