With Marlins selling, is Josh Johnson long for Miami?

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There’s no real reason for the Marlins to stop with Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. With Ozzie Guillen’s team deciding to sell, there should be several more attractive players available:

RHP Josh Johnson: Miami’s ace has stayed healthy this year, but he hasn’t pitched like a top-of-the-rotation starter with his 4.35 ERA in 19 starts. At the same time, his peripherals aren’t bad: he has a 96/35 K/BB ratio and he’s allowed just seven homers in 113 2/3 innings. He’s due $13.5 million next year before he becomes a free agent, so some of the fringe contenders also looking ahead to 2013 should be interested.

RHP Carlos Zambrano: Zambrano seems happy in Miami, and he’s been effective enough that the Marlins could look to sign him to a modest extension before trading him. If he’s not interested, then send him away, too. He’s a free agent at season’s end, and he’s not going to bring back draft pick compensation. He probably won’t fetch more than a couple of lesser prospects.

RHP Ricky Nolasco: Nolasco appears to be well on his way to posting an ERA in the mid-4.00s for the third straight year, and the Marlins should be able to do better for his $11.5 million salary in 2013. Like Zambrano, he probably wouldn’t net much of a return. Still, the fact that he’s durable and can eat innings would make him an upgrade for a few teams.

3B/SS Hanley Ramirez: If the Marlins decide it’s worth blowing things up, then Ramirez is the logical place to start. He’ll make $31.5 million between 2013-14, and while he has the potential to be a bargain even that steep price, he hasn’t produced like a $15 million-per-year player the last two seasons. A change of scenery might be best for all concerned.

Role players: 1B Carlos Lee, OF Austin Kearns, INF/OF Greg Dobbs, OF Chris Coghlan, RP Edward Mujica, RP Randy Choate. All should be available. One wonders if Lee would have gone to the Dodgers if he had it to do all over again.

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”

While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.

The deal has not been confirmed by the team.