Last Friday, I had the pleasure of serving as a guest of Jared Schwartz on my hometown’s main sports radio channel, 560 WQAM. It was a great conversation where we talked about the future of the Miami Heat (whether Wade, LeBron, and Bosh was a possibility), Josh Johnson’s future with the Florida Marlins, and the development of Dynasty Athlete Representation.
The discussion about Josh Johnson was very interesting, and I thought that I would expand on it right here on SportsAgentBlog.com.
Josh Johnson‘s agent is Matt Sosnick. Sosnick is a partner at Sosnick Cobbe Sports, and has appeared multiple times on this site. Sosnick and I talked early in this past season, and he told me that I should keep an eye on Johnson. He was right. Johnson went 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and struck out 191 batters in 209 innings. Those are fantastic numbers for a starting pitcher.
Understandably, Sosnick wants Johnson to get paid. At the same time, the Marlins want to make sure that they will retain the high caliber starting pitcher to increase their likelihood of success in the near future. All that is separating Sosnick and the Marlins is a year and over $10 million. Yeah, that’s all.
Sosnick is eying the contract that Zach Greinke received from the Kansas City Royals last year. Greinke received 4-years and $38 million. Before you say “What the hell is Soz thinking?”, realize that Greinke’s contract was signed BEFORE he went 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched. With those numbers, in 2009, Greinke earned the CY Young Award. The year before, Greinke pitched very well, but his record, ERA, and strikeouts-per-innings-pitched was not as strong. In fact, if you compare Johnson’s 2009 numbers with Greinke’s 2008 numbers, the gentlemen are quite similar…which is precisely why Sosnick is trying to use Greinke’s contract as a starting point for Johnson’s current negotiations.
But the Marlins are not pushovers. They want Johnson to sign a 3-year deal worth $23 million. Sosnick is not having it. Unfortunately for Sosnick, Josh Johnson is young. He still has a couple of years of arbitration left with the Marlins before he becomes a free-agent. If the Marlins strike one-year deals or follow through with arbitration for the next two years, when Johnson leaves after the 2011 season, they will most likely get an additional 1st round pick and a supplemental 1st round pick (assuming that Johnson will be a Type A free agent). Many people believe that Johnson will sign a 1-year deal for 2010 and then get traded in 2011 and never reach free-agency with the Marlins.
It is interesting to see how this one will play out. The Marlins are known for using a tough negotiating stance and relying on their deep farm system to replace high profile players who demand a large amount of money. They shifted course when they signed Hanley Ramirez to a 6-year, $70 million contract. With a new ballpark opening in 2012, the team may want to also solidify itself with a starting pitcher who looks as if he has the “stuff” to be the #1 on almost any team.
There’s also another interesting fact at play. Sosnick represents Ricky Nolasco, who is another starting pitcher for the Marlins. Nolasco recently signed a 1-year, $3.8 million deal with the club. He is slotted to be the #2 starter in 2010. Sosnick holds the chips and the Marlins want them. Sosnick is using the media a bit in order to gain some leverage on his side of the table. Is it working for him? He has noted that Johnson loves playing for the Marlins and that he would prefer to stay in Miami. Does that help his cause or hurt it?