COMMENTARY | Josh Johnson was traded to Toronto last winter and was immediately heralded as the new ace of the staff and as a potential Cy Young Award winner.
The enigmatic lefty brought a 56-37 record and career ERA of 3.40 to Toronto and looked poised to anchor the starting rotation on a team that was pegged by many to have a chance at winning the World Series this season.
When R.A. Dickey was added shortly after Toronto's massive deal with Miami, it appeared the Blue Jays would have a glutton or riches when it came to Johnson and Dickey anchoring their rotation.
There were minimal concerns over an injury that limited Johnson to nine games in 2011 because he threw 191 innings last season while posting an ERA of 3.81. His 8-14 record last season was chalked up to Miami having a bad season and Johnson not getting the kind of run support any pitcher would need to pick up more wins.
Things didn't pan out for Johnson in Toronto as he finished this season with a 2-8 record and a gaudy ERA of 6.20.
Personally, I'm blaming the Canada Border Services Agency for keeping his pitching mojo at the border when he entered Ontario.
All kidding aside, this season cost Johnson a lot of money. The Jays will have to decide in the offseason whether to offer Johnson a qualifying one-year deal of around $13.8 million in order to secure draft-pick compensation if he signs with another team, or simply let him walk.
The early buzz is that Toronto will let him walk instead of risk being on the hook for nearly $14 million next season and risk losing him without getting any draft picks back in return.
The Jays shut down Johnson for the season at the end of August when Dr. James Andrews diagnosed Johnson with a strained right forearm. Johnson hasn't pitched since August 6, and on August 28 he was told by Andrews that he shouldn't throw for at least two weeks.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos told the media back in August that he would wait to see how Johnson performs when he gets back on a mound in September or October before making a decision. However, that never came for the Jays or even a minor league team, so it leaves things even more murky when it comes to figuring out Johnson's future with the Jays or another team.
On top of that, Johnson will also need to prove to MLB teams that his head is in the right place after getting rocked often this season and looking frustrated while talking with the local media after those losses.
Johnson now finds himself in the horrible position of signing a cheap one- or two-year deal in order to prove that his injury issues and mental hurdles are behind him.
Unfortunately, for Johnson, there is doubt about whether his arm and head will be able to recover from what transpired this season and that will follow him into an important free-agency period for him this winter.
It's amazing the difference a year can make.
Ryan McNeill became a Blue Jays follower when as a pre-teen the team won back-to-back World Series. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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