Blue Jays' Josh Johnson clears waivers; chances for trade unknown
No team claimed waived starter Josh Johnson, who is struggling through a rare off year.
Johnson, one of the best pitchers in the game a few years back, is now eligible to be traded to any other team -- though, the likelihood of that isn't known as a couple factors could limit the chances for a trade.
With the Jays seemingly out of the race, a trade for Johnson -- who showed signs of getting his old form back in his last start -- would seem to make sense. However, there were signs at least earlier the Jays were thinking of extending Johnson a qualifying offer, which if declined would net them a coveted draft choice. Though it would still be a surprise if the Jays made a qualifying offer, expected to be close to $14 million, to a pitcher with an ERA over 6, but it is believed they've at least been weighing that possibility.
Johnson makes $13.75 million this year, coincidentally almost exactly what the qualifying offer is expected to be. A claiming team would have been on the hook for about $4 million through the rest of the year.
Trade interest in Johnson could be limited by a season in which he is 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA, though he did throw five shutout innings in a 7-2 victory over the Mariners last time out. Johnson's slump this year -- opposing hitters are batting .305 against him -- is stunning. "Every scout would tell you he was one of the two or three best pitchers in the National League a couple years ago,'' one NL scout said.
Johnson's ERA, 1.64 in a season shortened by injury a couple of years ago, rose to 3.81 last year and is up even more this year.
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