Expos 1B Johnson loses arbitration case

Updated: February 10, 2004, 8:25 PM ET

MONTREAL - Welcome to the economics of playing for the Montreal Expos, Nick Johnson.

Johnson, the key figure for the Expos in their major trade with the New York Yankees in December, lost his arbitration case Tuesday and will make $1.25 million in 2004.

After making $364,100 in 2003, Johnson had sought $1.68 million through the process. The 25-year-old first baseman is coming off a season in which he batted .284 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs in 96 games. Despite battling injuries, he also led New York

with a .422 on-base percentage.

Johnson goes from a team with the highest payroll in the major leagues to one with among the lowest. Unable to resolve the financial dispute, Johnson was indoctrinated to the financial restrictions placed upon a team that almost annually trades away one of its stars.

"Despite the risky nature arbitration presents, we know Nick's professionalism will not deter him from achieving his full potential this year," Expos general manager Omar Minaya said. "It is a relief to have this matter settled before spring training."

Johnson is a career .256 hitter with 31 homers and 113 RBIs in 248 games. On December 4, he was traded with outfielder Juan

Rivera and pitcher Randy Choate to the Expos for righthander Javier Vazquez.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index