Josh Johnson met with Dr. James Andrews, who advised the Blue Jays to shut down the injured right-hander for the remainder of the season. However, the good news is that Dr. Andrews also determined that Johnson doesn’t need surgery on the strained forearm that’s sidelined him for the past three weeks.
Toronto acquired Johnson as part of the blockbuster deal with the Marlins this offseason and the one-time ace hoped to stay healthy and put together a big season with free agency right around the corner. Instead he made just 16 starts with a 6.20 ERA and more healthy problems, with Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com writing that the Blue Jays probably won’t even make him the $14 million qualifying offer necessary to receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
If healthy he’s without question one of the best free agent pitchers available this offseason, but “if healthy” has forever been a question mark with Johnson and he may have to settle for a one-year deal at age 30.
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.