Johnson’s agent, Matt Sosnick, said he has talked to nearly every team about Johnson, including the Rangers.
“He’s always had interest in playing in Texas,” Sosnick said Thursday. “He’s from Oklahoma. It’s a very well-run organization. They win all the time. That would lend itself to interest.”
Sosnick has made no secret about the fact that Johnson, who turns 30 in January, is looking for a one-year deal to prove he’s healthy and try to get a multiyear deal after the 2014 season. No wonder a bunch of teams have called to express interest. And the Rangers have taken chances on pitchers coming off injuries in the past.
“He’s looking at some point in his career to prove that he’s worth a huge deal,” Sosnick said. “A season with 33 starts and 200 innings would be a huge help.”
Johnson has dealt with a slew of injuries, including two disabled list stints in 2013. He dealt with triceps tightness after his first four starts and, after returning to the rotation, had a forearm injury that shortened his season. Johnson had elbow surgery to remove bone spurs shortly after the season, and Sosnick said Thursday that Johnson will start his throwing program Monday.
“He feels great. He’s close to 100 percent right now,” Sosnick said. “He has no pain.”
Johnson ended up making 16 starts with the Toronto Blue Jays last season, posting a 6.20 ERA. He gave up 15 homers in 81 1/3 innings after allowing only 14 in 191 1/3 innings in 2012. So the long ball hurt him last season.
The Blue Jays decided not to give Johnson a qualifying offer, so any team that signs him won’t be giving up a draft pick.
“He wants a good defense [behind him], and I think he’d prefer to play in at least a pitching-neutral ballpark,” Sosnick said. “We’re taking information, and because there have been so many teams interested, there’s an overwhelming amount of information to process right now. We’re trying somehow to trim down the list. We’re not going to rush into anything.”
Johnson has a track record as a hard thrower who can miss bats. From 2009 to 2012, he had a 2.99 ERA for the Marlins in 101 starts with almost 600 strikeouts in 644 1/3 innings. What he has to do now is prove he can stay healthy in 2014 to get that big payday he wants.