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Friday December 4, 2009 9:58 pm

Josh Johnson to stay in Florida

Josh JohnsonJosh Johnson isn’t going anywhere. The All-Star right-hander will suit up for the Florida Marlins in 2010 after GM Michael Hill told the media that he can say “with certainty” that Johnson will be a Marlin on Opening Day 2010. While the two parties discussed a contract extension without success recently, it seems that Johnson’s immediate future is secure. He is still controllable for the next two seasons, and while Florida tried to restructure towards the postseason, players like Johnson and teammate Hanley Ramirez are the guys to focus on.

He was drafted by the Fish in the fourth round of the 2002 amateur draft and progressed quickly through the minor leagues. Johnson made a strong impact as a rookie in 2006, finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting. The next two seasons were disappointing, as elbow problems led to his undergoing Tommy John Surgery and missing the majority of the seasons. He returned less than a year later and ended up finishing 7-1 in 2008, a precursor to his dominant 2009 season, where he went 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA and 191 strikeouts. He even hit three home runs at the plate.

All of these accomplishments, including going to the All-Star Game in St. Louis, is certainly turning some heads. Teams have inquired with Hill about trades, but Hill has remained steadfast in his effort to keep Johnson. However, that does not weed out the possibility that the Marlins may dangle him near the trade deadline or next offseason, depending on where the Marlins appear to be heading. Hill could use Johnson in a trade to get something of value in return, but the fact that he’s a 25-year-old pitcher with electric stuff and a cheap price tag is already of high value.

There’s nothing to indicate that Johnson is a fluke. He has a 34-16 record in 86 games with a 3.40 ERA, which is a lot more than can be asked for from a player with his level of experience. The Marlins have shown that they certainly have a well put together front office, with two World Series and three Rookie of the Year Award winners in their short 17-year history. With the amount of young talent currently in their system and players like Johnson and Ramirez in the big leagues, the Marlins are set to be a contender for years to come.

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