Marlins looking to sign Johnson, trade Hermida

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Josh Johnson and Jeremy Hermida were born one day apart in January of 1984, they’re both arbitration eligible this offseason, and they’re both under team control through 2011, but Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Marlins are taking very different approaches with the two players.
According to Frisaro the Marlins are interested in signing Johnson to a long-term contract extension at some point this offseason, but are likely to make Hermida available in trades. Both approaches make sense, because Johnson has reemerged as one of the elite starting pitchers in baseball since returning from Tommy John elbow surgery while Hermida has largely disappointed after coming up through the minors as a top prospect.
Johnson is 22-6 with a 3.34 ERA and 268/85 K/BB ratio in 296 innings spread over 47 starts since making his way back following surgery, showing increased velocity after going under the knife. Frisaro writes that the Marlins will make a push to sign him “in the upcoming weeks” and have discussed offering him a contract covering “at least four seasons.” He speculates that the Marlins would have to top the four-year, $38 million deal Zack Greinke signed with the Royals last winter.
Hermida was a 2002 first-round pick and Baseball America ranked him as the No. 4 prospect in baseball for 2006, but he’s hit just .265/.344/.425 through 1,929 plate appearances while missing time with various injuries. He’s still just 25 years old, but he’s about to get fairly expensive via arbitration and the cost-cutting Marlins seemingly aren’t willing to show any more patience. Frisaro lists the Mariners, Rays, Mets, Blue Jays, and Cubs as possibly having interest in Hermida.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.