Josh Johnson, who struggled all season before being shut down in late August, underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow, according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.
Dr. James Andrews did the honors and Johnson is expected to be fully healthy for spring training, although Johnson being fully healthy ever again is obviously a big question mark. Bone spurs are generally not a huge deal, so if it turns out that they were the primary cause of his arm problems that would actually qualify as positive news for the impending free agent.
Not so long ago Johnson was one of the best young right-handers in baseball, but now at age 30 he’s likely looking at an incentive-laden one-year deal after throwing just 81 innings with a 6.20 ERA this season. Johnson has missed a ton of time with injuries over the years, but until this season he’d always remained very effective when healthy enough to take the mound.
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.