J.J. has surgery to remove bone spurs from elbow

J.J. has surgery to remove bone spurs from elbow

J.J. has surgery to remove bone spurs from elbow

TORONTO -- Josh Johnson underwent a minor surgical procedure on Tuesday morning to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.

Toronto's right-hander had the surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews. Johnson is expected to resume throwing in approximately five weeks and should be symptom-free by the start of Spring Training.

The bone spurs could help explain why Johnson's first -- and potentially only -- season in Toronto went so poorly. The prized offseason acquisition posted a 2-8 record with a 6.20 ERA while making just 16 starts during an injury-plagued season.

Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and previously suffered a severe shoulder injury. With the Blue Jays, the 29-year-old missed more than a month with a right triceps injury and later had his season cut short in the middle of August because of a forearm issue.

It's certainly plausible that the triceps and forearm problems were directly related to Johnson's elbow. He will hope to have the same success as fellow Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos, who had bone spurs removed earlier this year and went on to post a 1.69 ERA after his return on Aug. 1.

Johnson is eligible for free agency this offseason for the first time in his career. Toronto has the option of essentially guaranteeing Johnson's return by extending a qualifying offer to the former All-Star. That seemed like a realistic scenario earlier in the year, but with an expected price tag of approximately $14 million, it now seems remote.

The Blue Jays have exclusive negotiating rights with Johnson until the offseason officially gets underway after the World Series. He would seem to be in line for a one-year contract with incentives, but that is the type of deal that general manager Alex Anthopoulos has avoided.

Toronto generally likes to offer a little bit more guaranteed money to avoid incentives. There's a possibility that could change with Johnson.

"I think the reason we try to avoid it is in past years, as an [assistant GM], there were some times when I saw players with contracts that had incentives, and then all of a sudden, there was a perception that maybe playing time was being dictated by the front office," Anthopoulos said recently.

"Or that players weren't playing on their own merits -- it was contractually based. I always wanted to avoid that, but that's not to say it's a hard and fast rule."

Johnson is 58-45 with an impressive 3.40 ERA in 170 appearances (160 starts) during his nine-year career. With a rather thin pitching market this offseason, he is expected to garner a great deal of interest in free agency, even after a disappointing 2013 campaign.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.