Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
If the Tigers can't find an improvement for Jason Johnson in the free agent market, they might as well look elsewhere. Bottom line, without an ace to anchor the staff, this team isn't headed for a playoff berth, and settling on Johnson is nothing but a waste of money. Should the Tigers strike out in free agency, they can always look to make a trade for a starter. On top of that, the Tigers have a half dozen young arms that could compete for a starting spot in spring training, why not give them a shot if the Tigers will be out of the playoff race before the season starts anyway.
Mark Anderson, Minor League Editor
The Tigers are in a sticky situation with Johnson. On the surface you see a pitcher who has provided a lot of league average innings at an extremely reasonable price, something that is becoming increasingly more difficult to find. However, digging a little deeper shows a pitcher who continues to struggle late in the year. The Tigers have the opportunity to offer arbitration to him, and they should; regardless of their desires to pursue some higher end free agent pitchers. If Johnson accepts arbitration, he's not likely to receive a raise so prohibitive it would hurt the organizations salary structure, and if he declines, they are afforded a supplemental pick in next summer's draft. Last off-season saw extremely mediocre pitchers like Kris Benson and Eric Milton get nearly $7 million per year, and if the Tigers can bring back a pitcher that is at least comparable, for less money, they should not pass up that opportunity. Regardless of what their free agent aspirations are, the Tigers must offer arbitration to Jason Johnson. For an organization who saw their pitching tire and disappear in the season's second half, having depth heading into the 2006 campaign is critical.
Jason Avery, Amateur Baseball Editor
I don't think they should bring him back. Johnson can eat innings, but the Tigers must find someone better. The Tigers should be able to land another starter in free agency for a cheaper price than what A.J. Burnett will command and even if they are shutout entirely in free agency, they could either make a deal for a starter, or sift through the younger arms in the system to see if they are ready to handle the job (Verlander, Zumaya), or bounce back from a bad year (Ledezma). I believe there are better options out there than in bringing J.J. back and the Tigers must explore those options to every end.
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