Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Josh Johnson, please sign with a National League team

      November 19, 2013 @ 17:24:31 PDT

Better throw Josh Johnson on your sleepers list.

Toronto Blue Jays SP Josh Johnson
Hopefully he ditches AL threads

The free agent has a solid chance of leaving homer-haven Rogers Centre for a tamer ambience. In his single season with the Toronto Blue Jays, he posted a 6.20 ERA in 81 1/3 innings. A forearm strain cut his season short. Not surprising for the flame-thrower with an extensive medical chart.

Look beneath that ERA, though. His 4.62 FIP and 3.58 xFIP tell a much more favorable story. Though his BB/9 (3.32) was almost his full-season high, he's hovered below 3.00 in his peak years, and his BB% (7.8) was an improvement on the last two campaigns.

Johnson's K/9 (9.18) alone should remind you it's worth reinvestigating his draft value. Johnson got back to a solid first-strike approach, which led to a decreased need to pound the zone, which in turn led to more deceptive pitches at which opponents would flail. He's typically been a command-rate stalwart.

Maybe another year of a high liner allowance said his .356 BAABIP makes sense; it evened out from 2012's .302, when it could've been much higher. (Maybe he should stop throwing that two-seamer.) But Johnson's 1.66 HR/9 was nothing even remotely normal in his profile, considering the rest of his career numbers, including his cumulative 0.67 rate. Perhaps some location issues need fixing.

If Johnson validates the reports that tie him to a National League club, specifically the San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates or the San Diego Padres ... what's not to like?

OK, maybe that elbow surgery in October to remove bone spurs will be worth monitoring. How will he recover?

Either way, a return to the Senior Circuit in his age-30 season (yeah, he's been around a while) would restore the upside he held even when he was with the Miami Marlins. A healthy version of the righty is a mixed SP3 with SP1 upside that you can land for the price of a 5. (A current injury plus a rep for them can work wonders here.) Beware the chance that his hype grows with an uneventful rehab heading into the spring -- which, given his peripherals, is entirely possible.

Maybe Kansas City could ease the pain of him still having to face a DH nearly every day. Of course, if he lands in somewhere like Arlington, my rankings will need some red ink.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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