Josh Johnson, three seasons removed from consecutive National League All-Star appearances, has signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the San Diego Padres.
Johnson, 29, reached agreement with the Padres exactly one year to the day after the announcement of the Blue Jays-Marlins blockbuster that sent him from Miami to Toronto. At the time, the right-hander was expected to enter the 2013-2014 offseason as one of the most sought-after pitchers on the free-agent market.
That didn’t happen, as Johnson struggled to a 2-8 record and 6.20 ERA while battling health woes.
Johnson was DL’d in April because of an inflamed triceps and again in August with forearm tightness. He finished the season on the DL and in October underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his right elbow.
Now Johnson is headed to a place famous for the resuscitation of pitching careers — San Diego’s Petco Park, with its consistently marvelous weather and spacious outfield. As long as he’s recovered from his injuries, Johnson could become the veteran leader of a promising rotation that includes Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross.
At the very least, Johnson should find it much easier to perform in a pitcher-friendly National League West ballpark than at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, a homer haven in the American League East. If Johnson returns to his 2009-2010 form — 26-11, 2.80 ERA — then he might get his big payday after all, just one year later than expected.