JOHNSON SIGNS THREE YEAR EXTENSION, ON BOARD THROUGH 2009
With Major League Baseball ready to name a new owner in a matter of just a few weeks, Nationals' GM Jim Bowden has signed first baseman Nick Johnson to a three year, $16.5 million extension. Johnson will now be the team's first baseman through the 2009 season, and likely guarantees that Larry Broadway, who was thought to be the team's heir-apparent at first, will be traded before the start of next season. If Johnson remains healthy, his $5.5 million dollar price tag is a bargain. Any future injuries, however, will make him hard to trade.
Why would the Nationals make this kind of commitment to Johnson when the team's new ownership team is so close to being announced? Wouldn't it make more sense to wait a month or two and allow the team's owner to decide which players he wants to "lock up" to long term deals? Johnson is a "good" first baseman, "nice" in the mold of Sean Casey and Lyle Overbay. It's great to have a player like him on the team if, IF IF IF IF, there is power coming from other sources, say catcher, third base and a second outfield position. His tremedous glove and high on base percentage are "must haves" for lead off hitters and middle infielders. First base, though, is all about driving in runs and winning games with a single swing.
Johnson played in 131 games in 2005, and hit .289-15-74. Had he played a full 162 games, his numbers would have looked like this: Hits: 163 ... 2B:43 ... 3B:5 ... HR: 18 ... RBI:92 ... Ave:.289. Johnson had a solid .408 on base percent and a good .479 slugging average. If you take his career stats, and average them over a 162 game season, you get similar numbers: Hits:140 ... 2B:31 ... 3B:1 ... HR:18 ... RBI: 78 ...AVE:.265. Johnson has a career .383 obp and a .437 slugging average. Based on what he could have done in 2005, and what he has done over his career, Johnson is going to consistently hit around .290-20-90 with a .400 obp and a .440 slg. Those are "nice" numbers for a National League first baseman, but certainly not "superb" ones.
I'm not saying that I'm unhappy with this move; I guess I'm more stunned than anything else. I hope that Bowden understands that his tenure as team GM hinges on Johnson staying healthy, at least for the foreseeable future.
Now, some personal horn-tooting: I was the first person on the internet [that I'm aware of] to break the news that Nick Johnson signed this deal. Great reporting? Nah. I had just turned on my XM radio to listen to the Nats pregame show and update my blog when Charley Slowes aired the press conference. I jumped over to the Nationals' official site and there was nothing.
Wow. Call me scoop.
Links to this post: