It’s been pretty clear for a long time that Josh Johnson wouldn’t throw another meaningful pitch this season, but it took until Thursday for the Marlins to make it official.
“You rewind this whole thing we thought it was gonna be a two-week thing and that was four months ago,” Marlins baseball operations president Larry Beinfest said.
Indeed, Johnson has been on the DL since May 21 with right shoulder inflammation. He’s gone without a major setback since, but he also hasn’t progressed nearly as the Marlins hoped. He’s just getting back on a mound now, and while the Marlins might have been tempted to try to aim for a late-September return as a reliever if they were still in the race, there’s certainly no point to trying it now.
Johnson, in the second year of a four-year, $39 million contract, will make $13.75 million each of the next two seasons. He’ll probably be worth the money if healthy, but he’s had just one season as a major leaguer in which he’s made 30 starts. He was 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in nine starts before getting hurt this year.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.