Signing J.J. a priority

In 2002, the Marlins selected Josh Johnson in the fourth-round of the First-Year Player Draft.

The 6-foot-7 Oklahoma resident made his big league debut as a September callup in 2005. 

This season, the 25-year-old had a breakout season. Emerging as the team’s ace, Johnson finished 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA, and he was selected to the National League All-Star team.

Drafted and groomed in the Marlins system, the organization would like to keep the right-hander around for a long time. Johnson is in his second year of arbitration, but the Marlins are hoping to sign him to a multi-year contract in the upcoming weeks.

Team officials internally are discussing signing Johnson for at least four seasons. But at this point, no offers — even preliminary — have been made.

In 2009, Johnson earned $1.4 million, plus another $50,000 in incentives because he reached 33 starts.

Indications are it will take more than $40 million over four years to get the deal done. That figure could rise to about $45 million, or even more.

Kansas City ace Zack Greinke signed a four-year, $38 million contract for 2009-12.

To sign Johnson, it appears the Marlins would have to top that.

The Marlins open their new ballpark in 2012 and the team would like to have Johnson anchoring their rotation. The only Florida players signed for 2010 are All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez and veteran infielder/pinch-hitter Wes Helms.

— Joe Frisaro


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