Johnson inks incentive-laden deal

Johnson, Nats bypass arbitration

WASHINGTON -- Nick Johnson avoided arbitration by signing an incentive-laden one-year, $3.2 million contract on Tuesday afternoon.

Johnson, 27, had the best season of his career in 2005, hitting .289 with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs in 131 games. His team-leading .408 on-base percentage ranked sixth in the National League, and Johnson's .996 fielding percentage ranked third among NL first basemen.

However, Johnson spent time on the disabled list in 2005 for the sixth consecutive season because of a deep bone bruise in his right heel, which caused him to miss a month of the season.

"Both sides ended up with a fair and equitable deal," general manager Jim Bowden said. "His contract has incentives only because of his history of being injured. The club needed some payroll protection in case he is not able to play a full season. We hope that he does. We don't mind paying if he plays a full year."

Johnson's signing means that Alfonso Soriano will be the only member of the Nationals going to arbitration. The parties are $2 million apart. The Nationals are offering $10 million, while Soriano is looking for a $12 million.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.