Kelly Johnson, Will You Accept This Arbitration Offer?

In just a few mere hours, somebody could walk away with an arbitration rose, or they could just walk away.

Except if it’s the latter, there won’t be a limo waiting with a camera inside waiting to film that quintessential single tear rolling down the cheek. Come midnight tonight, we’ll know whether Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and
Kelly Johnson will accept salary arbitration.

Note: I probably shouldn’t have waited until the 11th hour to post this, as Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco have now signed contracts with the New York Mets. Kelly Johnson is the sole player left to either accept or decline arbitration.


Kelly Johnson

Will he accept arbitration? Definitely … maybe.

With the plethora of multi-year contracts being dealt out to middle-of-the-road infielders, it seemed all but certain that Kelly Johnson would test the free agent waters. But now, I’m not so sure.

If Clint Barmes, Jamey Carroll, and Jerry Hairston Jr. were all awarded multi-year deals, then a second baseman of Kelly Johnson’s calibre would have no problem getting a deal.

Most thought that Kelly Johnson’s modified Type A status would make him a much more attractive option, and they were right. But why is he still undecided … is KJ waiting for the Blue Jays to table a multi-year offer before he declines?

Judging by the way Alex Anthopoulos likes to work, I don’t think tabling an offer is at the forefront of his priorities at the Winter Meetings. He’s likey looking to pick up a second baseman via trade.

But if nothing pans out via the trade route, then the Blue Jays do have Kelly Johnson as a backup plan. The only problem is an offer from Toronto has to look more attractive than any other possible offers Kelly Johnson has out there.

I can’t recall where I saw it on Twitter, but someone suggested that Kelly Johnson should just accept arbitration and the Blue jays should bring him back for one year. KJ could then build off a better season in 2012 and hit free agency and go for a better deal next off-season.

It’s a bit of a risky strategy, one employed by Carlos Pena this past off-season. By his standards, Pena had a down year in 2009 but then signed a $10 million dollar one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs in hopes of rebuilding his stock.


Pena had a better 2011, but nobody’s beating down the door now to bring Carlos Pena to their team. The Cubs have an arbitration offer out on Carlos Pena, and much like Kelly Johnson, he has yet to accept or decline.

If I’m Kelly Johnson’s agent, I’m not necessarily taking whatever offer I can get, but if it makes more sense to just accept arbitration from the Blue Jays and take a $7 million dollar one-year deal, I’m doing it.

On the other hand, if a 2-year $15 million dollar offer comes up, then I’m taking that too (this is why I could never be an agent, I’m a horrible negotiator). I guess it all depends on how much Kelly Johnson enjoys that extra year(s) of security that comes with a multi-year contract.

If KJ is a betting man, then he’ll accept arbitration and try to have a career season and go for the big money next off-season. However, if Kelly Johnson wants to play it safe, then he should go with whoever offers the biggest/longest contract.

The funny thing is the Toronto Blue Jays could be the team in both of those scenarios. We’ll know before the crack of midnight tonight.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

2 thoughts on “Kelly Johnson, Will You Accept This Arbitration Offer?

  • December 7, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Ian, If johnson goes to a different organisation, who do you want as second baseman

  • December 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    BlueJayBeast, luckily Johnson accepted arbitration but if he didn't, it seems like the crop of free agent second baseman is extremely thin. I guess I'd be okay with Valbuena full-time at second base, but he is no match for Johnson offensively.

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