At least to pitchers it is. Juan C. Rodriguez has the scoop.
Here’s a team-by-team look at pitcher contracts of four or years signed within the last five or six seasons:
Marlins — None
Phillies – None
Reds — Bronson Arroyo (4 plus option), Francisco Cordero (4 plus option), Aaron Harang (4 plus option)
Cardinals — Chris Carpenter (5 plus option), Kyle Lohse (4), Adam Wainwright (4 plus 2 options)
Giants — Matt Cain (4 plus option), Noah Lowry (4 plus option), Barry Zito (7 plus option)
Tigers — Jeremy Bonderman (4)
Indians — Fausto Carmona (4 plus 3 options), Cliff Lee (4 plus option), Jake Westbrook (4), C.C. Sabathia (4)…
I snipped out a few of the bad ones, but there are obviously some good ones mixed in between. The key here is that the league in general does sign these long-term deals, but it is often hit or miss, even with young pitchers within your own organization. For every Matt Cain or C.C. Sabathia signing, you get a few Fausto Carmona, Jeremy Bonderman, or Noah Lowry deals. Even if they end up being cheap, they hurt the organization anyway.
The Marlins are pretty lucky to avoid making ridiculous offers such as the one to Bronson Arroyo or (gag) Barry Zito because of their payroll, because those are the mistakes that cripple organizations for years. But if the Marlins do make a four-year offer to Josh Johnson and he follows that up with being injured like he was in 2007, that’s a significant loss to the team, however you want to spin it.
That being said, I am still in favor of getting JJ under contract in any way possible (as is JCR, as he mentions in the linked post). If it means a fourth year is necessary, I would say that it would be warranted at something like Zack Greinke money. But I think the Marlins can still make a deal for Johnson at three years provided they do not skimp so badly on the money. A three-year, $22M deal is simply not enough. If the Marlins are serious, they’ll bump it closer to $30M, and at that point why would Johnson disagree?