- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer
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Pitcher Josh Johnson reached an agreement on a four-year, guaranteed $39 million contract that will keep him with the Florida Marlins through 2013. The pitcher confirmed the agreement to ESPN.com Thursday.
"I'm excited,'' Johnson said. "It sets up me and my family for life. One of the best parts is knowing where I'm going to be the next four years. I won't have to hear about any trade rumors or anything like that. I'm happy to be in South Florida.''
The deal will pay Johnson $3.75 million this season, $7.75 million in 2011 and $13.75 million in each of the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
The contract buys out the final two years of salary arbitration eligibility and the first two years of free agency for Johnson, who has a 34-16 record and a 3.40 ERA in parts of five seasons with the Marlins.
Johnson's contract is the second-biggest ever for a pitcher heading into his second salary arbitration. The only bigger deal was signed by Johan Santana, who agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with Minnesota in February 2005 after winning the Cy Young Award.
Johnson, regarded as one of baseball's best young starters, made the All-Star team in 2009 and has a 22-6 record since his return from Tommy John surgery in July 2008.
Johnson's negotiations took several twists this offseason. In November, agent Matt Sosnick said the two sides had reached an "impasse" and that Johnson would play under a one-year deal in 2010.
Johnson and his representatives entered the offseason looking for a deal slightly above Zack Greinke's four-year, $38 million contract with Kansas City, while the Marlins countered with a reported three-year, $23 million offer. It appeared the spread was too much to overcome and that Johnson would sign a one-year contract or go to salary arbitration -- and possibly be traded at midseason or next winter.
Johnson said he was confident throughout the process that a deal would get done.
"Jeffrey Loria, our owner, came up to me a couple of times during the season and said, 'We'll get something done -- I promise you,'" Johnson said. "Even when the talks broke down, I was confident we would get something done.''
The Marlins dealt arbitration-eligible outfielder Jeremy Hermida to Boston in November and spent much of the winter exploring trades for second baseman Dan Uggla -- seemingly to help free up space in the payroll for a long-term deal for Johnson.
The Marlins ranked last among the 30 major league teams with a $36.8 million opening day payroll in 2009, but vowed to increase payroll moving forward as they prepare to open a new ballpark in April 2012.
The Marlins recently came under scrutiny amid concerns from the players' association that they weren't living up to a provision in the basic agreement that requires teams to use revenue-sharing receipts to improve performance on the field.
Although Marlins president David Samson maintained that the team did not violate the basic agreement, the Marlins issued a joint statement earlier this week promising to "work cooperatively" with the union and the commissioner's office in the future.
"In response to our concerns that revenue sharing proceeds have not been used as required, the Marlins have assured the Union and the Commissioner's Office that they plan to use such proceeds to increase player payroll annually as they move toward the opening of their new ballpark,'' said union executive director Michael Weiner.
Jerry Crasnick covers Major League Baseball for ESPN Insider.
4hJohn Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information