How much is that OF/DH in the window?


For the Yankees, 2010 is shaping up to be something of a sandwich. Stuck between 2011, ideally the year of the Jesus (and perhaps A-Jax), and 2009, the year of Johnny Damon‘s and Hideki Matsui‘s impending free agency, the Yankees will see a lot of key spots in limbo next year. They could go to the wall on a few big free agents, they could re-sign those they know or they could ride out the tide.

The first one up to consider is Johnny Damon and the left field spot. On defense, Damon has been dreadful this year. His UZR is currently -7.3 after reaching 6.7 last year. Yet his offense has been tremendous. He has an .882 OPS and should reach a career high in home runs this year. He is also in the final year of a four-year contract paying him $13 million a year.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve examined how the Yankees want to bring Damon back and how Damon wants to return. Today, Jon Heyman adds his take to the Damon mix:

The Yankees intend to try to bring back Johnny Damon, probably for about $6-8 million a year (that’ll be the first offer, anyway), and might be willing to give him a second year. Damon’s been saying in the papers all year that he wants to be back, which is quite a departure from the usual free-agent script and could mean he’s that rare player amenable to a below-market contract. Yankees management loves Damon personally, too, and that doesn’t hurt.

That figure — $6-$8 million a year for two years — is pretty much what I assumed the Yankees would offer. According to Fangraphs, Damon will probably outperform his contract value this year. With a month of the season left, Damon’s value is pegged at $11.9 million. Allowing for age-related declines, I would assume a value of $10 million next year and $8-$9 million the year after. (Value, by the way, is something of an ideal figure. It’s WAR “converted to a dollar scale based on what a player would make in free agency.” That “would” requires perfect information and agreement as to a true value between the team and the player.)

Next up is Hideki Matsui. We know that Matsui likes New York, and in the comments to Joe’s most recent post, we were debating Matsui’s potential value to the 2010 Yankees. While Joe Girardi has talked about using the DH spot as a rotating half-rest spot for his aging veterans, I am of the belief that a premiere bat at DH would better serve the team. The Yankees can ill afford to lose Hideki Matsui and his 15.8 batting runs above average to a lineup that includes Ramiro Pena or Jose Molina every day.

But how much is Hideki Matsui worth? He too is playing out the last year of a four-year $52 million contract, and while Damon has met that value, Fangraphs pegs Matsui’s value as $24.2 million over the four years. Even with a monster September, Matsui won’t be worth much more than half of what he has been paid.

As long as Matsui can stay healthy enough to DH and produce as near his current levels next year, they should be willing to offer him a one-year deal with the idea that some combination of Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira and Jesus Montero will assume the DH duties in 2011. In 2007, Frank Thomas DH’d for the Blue Jays and put up similar numbers to Matsui’s 2009 campaign. He earned $5.5 million and was worth approximately $9.9 million. If the Yankees and Matsui can agree to a one-year $8 million deal for 2010, I would approve.

The Yanks could look outside of Matsui and Damon, though. They could opt for an outfield of Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher. While the defense would be stellar, the offensive production would suffer immensely. Damon’s WAR outpaces Melky’s by 2 wins and Gardner’s by 0.7 wins, mostly due to Brett’s defense. They could, as Ken Rosenthal speculated today, be in on Matt Holliday and Jason Bay, the top two free agent outfielders.

In the end, though, I’d rather give two 36-year-olds one-to-two year deals than give Jason Bay anything. I could be convinced to look at Holliday in Yankee Stadium for the right price, but with his career resurgence in St. Louis, he will be looking for a big pay day. No matter what, this off-season will be an interesting one as the Yanks look to fill a few short-term gaps and assess their organizational philosophy going forward.

Categories : Analysis


  1. John says:

    Don’t forget Carl Crawford, who is a free agent after 2010. That would an incredible acquisition. I want Damon back but only for one year, so that the starting lineup in 2011 would look like this:

    Carl Crawford LF
    Derek Jeter SS
    Tex 1B
    A-Rod 3B
    Posada DH
    Cano 2B
    Montero C
    Jackson RF
    Gardner CF

    Bench: Swisher RF/DH

  2. Tom Zig says:

    So what you’re saying is try to go for the 2fer? 1 Johnny Damon + 1 Hideki Matsui for the price of 1 Matt Holliday?

  3. Bo says:

    An OF of Gardner, Swisher and Melky? So three fourth OF’s playing everyday. Maybe a 1% chance that happens

  4. Steeve says:

    I’m not a big fan of either Melky or Brett Gardner, but there seems to be this idea that Gardner is much better than Melky. I like the speed Gardner brings to the table, but as the saying goes: “you can’t steal first base.”

  5. Salty Buggah says:

    “…2011, ideally the year of the Jesus…”

    I love the addition of “the” before Jesus

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      It was not long afterwards that He rose into the sky and disappeared into a cloud, leaving them staring after Him. As they were straining their eyes for another glimpse, suddenly two white-robed men were standing there among them, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has gone away to heaven, and some day, just as He went, He will return!

      Well it looks like he’s coming soon.

    • Klemy says:

      You don’t mess with the Jesus!

    • JMK says:

      That’s really optimistic. Assuming he starts off at AA Trenton in 2010, he’ll move up to SWB around the ASB, play a half-season there, and then be ready for the big leagues by 2011? I know he’s moved up amazingly quickly, largely because his bat is fantastic, but his defense still needs a lot of work. I don’t think one more season in the minors is going to make him MLB-ready on D.

      Think how upset we are watching Jorge behind the plate, and magnify that by ten, and that could be the result.

      2012 is more realistic, I think.

  6. My crazy suggestion for DH:

    Mike Cameron.

    Think about it.

    • John says:

      one stat: ,453. this is cameron’s SLG in 2009. that is 26 poitns lower than yankees’ 2009 team SLG

    • steve s says:

      I agree. That is crazy. In his prime I wouldn’t want Cameron. Now that he strikes out almost 30% of his at bats, can’t run anymore and has a low OBP he is the anithesis of what a DH should be. Matsui on one leg is a better choice (as is almost anyone else you can think of this side of Giambi).

    • A.D. says:

      If by DH, you mean outfielder allowing someone else to DH? Given that Cameron could still play the field, one would figure you would let him.

    • jsbrendog says:

      my crazy suggestion for DH:

      Frank Thomas.

    • Tom Zig says:

      My crazy suggestion

      Adam Dunn.

    • You know… I know you love you some Mike Cameron, but I can’t get behind this idea. There’s a huge caveat here, like with Matsui – If he could be had for a very cheap contract, you consider it. But really… At this point in his career, you’d be signing a guy who hits kinda like Nick Swisher (who is good), with more strikeouts and less power and walks (so, not really in Swish’s offensive league), little speed (his SB numbers are way down and have been declining for years), at age 37 (2010 season), coming out of the NL Central.

      I’m more than a little concerned that his numbers, at age 37, wouldn’t hold up if he moved to the AL East. I think the time when Mike Cameron would have been valuable to the Yankees has passed.

      • I was merely saying that, if you replace Matsui with Cameron, you could rotate the 4 spots of LF-CF-RF-DH between Cameron-Damon-Swisher-Gardbrera pretty equally.

        He gives you some good pop, but can play the field, and he’s an upgrade over the other guys we’ve considered in Matsui, Nady, and Hinske in that he can play CF. Well.

        But like I said, it’s crazy.

        • Yeah… But a little context might change that analysis. Like, is your proposed LF-CF-RF-DH rotation better than the 2009 version of Damon, Gelky (yeah, that’s right, I’m holding tight to Gelky), Swisher, Hinske, Hairston, Matsui? If you’ve got serviceable bench options like Hinske and Hairston, isn’t Matsui much more valuable than Cameron (since his bat is so much better)?

          • I’ll buy that.

            Which is why, like I said in the other thread, depending on what the rest of our bench looks like, I’d be okay with Matsui coming back.

            • Yeah, I’m coming around on that idea as well. If Matsui, and Damon for that matter, can be had on short, relatively affordable (read: cheaper than their current contracts and probably under $10M/yr each), I think the Yanks have to bring them back. Matsui’s clearly the tougher decision, but if the Yanks have serviceable bench and OF options, it’s probably going to be worth it (if they can get him for, like $5M-$7M) to have Matsui take one of those bench spots and DH (or PH, obviously) a 3-4 times a week. His bat is just that good.

              Pretty awesome that each of those guys has put the Yanks in the position where their return is actually possible (and probably preferable), considering how sure we all were that the Yanks would say goodbye to both of them after 2009.

      • Makavelli says:

        Agreed. Mike Cameron is pointless.

        Getting rid of Johnny Damon for Mike Cameron is a practical joke.

    • Makavelli says:

      My crazy suggestion.

      Royce Clayton.

      Think about it…

  7. JonG says:

    Would Matsui really cost $8M? If we assume that’s close to the number Damon will get, shouldn’t Matsui expect a few million less since he never plays in the field? I’d think Abreu’s $5M should be the benchmark.

    • Bill says:

      Totally agree. Matsui is not worth 8M. Few competitive teams need a DH and I’d be surprised if anyone feels he could give them anything in the OF.

      5M and a reduced role is the absolute most we should offer Matsui. The guy is a terrific hitter and I would love to have him back, but anything more than that is too much. Next year regardless of whether or not we sign someone like Matsui to be the primary DH we will need to give more DH ABs to other players on the team. Matsui also provides us no defensive flexibility because even if he is healthy enough to play LF he is absolutely dreadful there.

  8. nyrfan says:

    where is the live chat? am i missing something? or just slightly stupuid

  9. SM says:

    It is important to note that you can offer your own players slightly higher contracts since you will not lose a comp pick for signing them.
    I think a very cheap option could be Brian Giles. He has dropped off a cliff this year but also has a very low babip.

  10. thebusiness says:

    Why on earth would you sign both of them? Pick one and DH him. Go to Damon first since he’s healthier and provides more speed. If he declines the small deal, go to Matsui.

  11. Sam says:

    Is Jim Thome an option? I would throw out a one year $4-6 million deal to Thome, Matsui, Abreu, Guerrero, and Sheffield with the understanding that they would be the DH. (If we can get Vlad… nastiness.)

  12. Thirty5Thirty6 says:

    What about Xavier Nady?

    I think he would be a better option than anything else out there, besides Damon.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      There’s a question mark surrounding how he’ll bounce back after what is now his second tommy john surgery.

      • Thirty5Thirty6 says:

        Agreed. But I would rather take a gamble on him, then shell out money for Bay or Holliday. The only person that I would give a substantial amount of money this winter would be Manny.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          No Manny, please, but anyway…

          I wouldn’t want to shell out for Bay, Holliday I’d consider for the right price.

          • Thirty5Thirty6 says:

            Why not Manny?

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

              Because he’s a piece of shit, for one thing. And a clubhouse cancer.

              Consider this, I’m not making it up: He was on pace to hit 3000 with over 30 HR’ and 100 RBI’s…and the Red Sox STILL traded him!

              He would behave for a year maybe and then he’d act like shit again.

              • Glen L says:

                Yeah … total cancer!! i mean they ONLY won 2 world series with him … toxic toxic cancer

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  Exactly. They won 2 WS, and in the middle of a great season with them, he was traded!

                  I’m a huge Giants fan. Plaxico Burress carried the Giants past Green Bay. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a clubhouse cancer. The vry next year he had an awful year then shot himself besides. And what happened with Manny? The year after his second Wrold Series hedoes all sorts of weird shit to get the Sox to trade him, goes to LA and does great for half a season. Fine. Then he turns into the typical Manny piece of shit and you hear he’s taking illegal drugs and he’s suspended. Then he comes back and goes into a big slump as the Dodgers freefall.

                  Manny=clubhouse cancer

                • Manny=clubhouse cancer

                  It’s moot. Manny won’t be on the market, because he loves LA and LA loves him.

                  Which means, in LA, at least, he’s certainly not a clubhouse cancer.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  ..Except that he was suspended for taking illegal drugs and the team has been playing like shit since he got back.

                  But it is moot.

                • the team has been playing like shit since he got back.

                  Their pitching fell apart. That’s not Manny’s fault.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  Not like Manny has been playing inspired ball either.

          • JobaWockeeZ says:

            Aside from the headaches he might give I’d love to have him on the team. He’s a great hitter who doesn’t give a shit about anything and just hits. Him as a DH would be incredibly awesome.

    • K.B.D. says:

      If he’s a A or B-Type, I’d rather just offer him arbitration and let him leave.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

        why would he leave? he’d just accept arb and we’re stuck with a blown out billy wagner…

        • K.B.D. says:

          He would leave because he could find a better deal on the open market. Bet on it.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

            …coming off a second TJS? i just dont see it…

            • K.B.D. says:

              While I agree that an elbow surgery isn’t a good thing, he’s not a pitcher.

              I can definitely see someone giving him 7-8M a year for 2 years with an option for a third. Considering he’s not liable for a large raise in arbitration that’s probably what he would get if he accepted. I think he’d get a more favorable deal, all things considered, on the FA market from whoever loses out on Bay/Holliday sweepstakes.

              I can understand some disagreement with what I’ve postulated, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility at all.

              • jsbrendog says:

                there’s no way an injured player ocming back from his wnd tjs after msising an entire year coming off a career playing over his head year getsmroe than 1 yr. I just odn’t see it.

                he might not be a pitcher but if he cant throw the ball from rf to the cutoff man then he is a dh. and as we are saying above a dh isnt worth more than what, 1/$8, 1/%10a t msot for elite dh’s?

      • Thirty5Thirty6 says:

        Agreed about only offering arbitration if he is a Type A or B, but I would still like them to try and sign him even if he is not. I don’t think he will put up godly numbers, but I think he could be very solid offensively.

  13. A.D. says:

    Wonder if Damon’s poor outfield play is just a down defensive year? Interestingly his SB are way down this year too, but he hasn’t been caught. Does he know he’s legitimately slower, or perhaps playing with leg ailment, or just batting 2nd means stealing less.

    • thebusiness says:

      Damon’s UZR is bad because he’s out of position, and also has trouble just catching balls now. Add that in to the throwing and crashing into walls, sign him as a DH and keep him fresh.

      • Damon’s UZR is bad because he’s out of position,

        False. Damon is IN position. He’s been a leftfielder for years, including the last few years where he was playing CF out of position.

        • K.B.D. says:

          I think he’s referring more to the hurdle of learning to play left field after being a center fielder for basically his entire career. This is really his first full year, so I understand the point, but just looking at him play defense makes you cringe and there’s really nothing to indicate it will improve.

    • SM says:

      I think you are correct and its a one year correction based on SSS. Most likley not as good as he was in the past but I would bet on a league avg (0 UZR/150 moving forward) in LF.

  14. thebusiness says:

    I hate the idea of Posada DHing next year but I’d sooner do that and call up Cervelli and Montero (share DH/C with Posada) than have Damon actually play the field and roll the dice on Matsui’s knees not turning to dust.

    I’d sooner see an AJAX/Melky/Gardner battle for two spots and I REALLY hate that idea.

    • Makavelli says:

      Gambling on Matsui’s knees while he DH’s most of the time >>>>>> Cervelli/Montero catching next year for Posada to DH

      And we’re doing quite fine this year with Matsui at DH and Damon in left right now. And we lost Nady.

      Assume Nady didn’t go down. We would have Damon, Melky, Gardner, Matsui, Nady, Swisher as OF/DH. (Assuming we wouldn’t have signed Hinske with Nady still playing.)

      Next year we still don’t have Nady…and we’re talking how we MUST drop either Matsui or Damon “or else!!!”

      Re-sign both of them. I don’t see what the hooplah is all about. If you can get both for cheaps. Do it. I dont understand the argument here…

  15. E-ROC says:

    I think A-Rod’s surgery and recovery this off-season could factor in bringing back Matsui. A-Rod may take longer to recover than Chase Utley.

  16. thebusiness says:

    I would sign Damon to DH. Move Swisher to LF and trade for RF as plan A. If that failed, it’d be easier to find a bat to DH via FA/trades/AAA and move Damon to LF as a last resort.

    • thebusiness says:

      Oh I forgot, Holliday is an option in LF. I’d start my off season with Damon as DH and if it ends up that he ends up having to move to LF, so be it.

  17. Rod says:

    No need to make a big move this year with Crawford looming out there after 2010. Sign Damon and Matsui on short discounted deals, maybe one year deals with club/mutual options for a second year.

    By the 2011 season the OF will hopefully be Crawford, A-Jax, Swish. Montero will be up as the everyday catcher with Cervelli (or one of the hundred or so backstops the Yankees have in the minors) as the backup and Posada can spot catch but spend most of his time as the DH. The rest of the time you can rotate the other older guys through the DH spot.

    • Mr.Jigginz says:

      I would assume that if/when Crawford is traded,the team trading for him will want to sign Carl to an extention as part of the agreement in the trade.

  18. Mike bk says:

    bring back damon for 1/7 with a second year option for the same with 1 mil in buyout so if they dump him he still got 8 mil for next year.

    consider going after dunn to take matsui’s spot at dh next year as he is having an mvp type year with the bat and would destroy in this park. it gives all the kids a year to develop and probably makes us even better offensively next year. dunn while bad defensively would be an understatement for a 1 day a week in lf and 1 at 1b wouldnt kill anyone.

  19. pete says:

    2010 DH: barry bonds
    i don’t care i want it
    I’m thinking sign him to a one year, three dollar deal, and well get .300/.500/.500 with about 55 hrs, right?

  20. Ant says:

    I say if Damon wants too much money and years next year you go after Mike Cameron. Same age, better defense and similiar offensive production. Then you sign Matsui for one year as DH.
    2010 outfield:
    Lf: Cameron
    Cf: Gardner/Melky
    Rf: Swisher
    4th: Hinske or Nady

    That’s a pretty balanced outfield setup, offensively and defensively.

    • Makavelli says:

      Damon + Yankee Stadium’s Right Field Wall > Mike Cameron + Yankee Stadium’s Left Field Wall

      • thebusiness says:

        A little leaguer in LF > Damon’s arm in RF

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          …And yet I’d still take Damon for his offensive production.

        • Makavelli says:

          Melky’s arm is ++ and it’s barely helped us at all in a long while. Above Average Offensive Bat > Strong Outfield Arm

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

            Much greater.

          • Mac says:

            Melky’s arm is really just above average – (I’m a big Melky fan) but its hard to say how its helped us b\c if Damon or Gardner were in CF, runners go first to third w\o even thinking – I don’t know how much if at all the “threat” of Melky’s strong (but as of late, inaccurate) arm prevents the runner from going 1st to 3rd.

            A guess, Melk has prevented some guys from doing that.

            It also makes me laugh a bit when Gardner is valued so high in the sense that his limited play this year I believe inflates his value (too small a sample size) – i.e if he was valued solely on his July #’s he’s be pretty worthless – and that’s the last sample we have of him before the thumb injury.

            Diclaimer, I don’t like Gardy type players – never did – I’ll take superior talent over grit anyday.

      • Ant says:

        ** “if Damon wants too much money and years”

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          But you also said they had similar offensive production. Which isn’t true. It would be a major hit.

    • Mike bk says:

      similar offensive production:

      and it is similar in what category?

      Damon wins
      BA by 30 pts
      slugging by 60 pts
      OPS by 66 pts
      45 less K’s
      5 more 2b’s
      4 more hr’s
      15 more rbi’s

      only stat that is equal is OBP cause cameron walks more.

      • Mac says:

        Similar in the sense that Damon is at least twice the offensive player Cameron is:


        RISP .328/.406/.534
        RISP w 2 out .265/.390/.551
        Close and Late .323/.436/.723


        RISP ..241/.399/.398
        w 2 out .208/.406/.333
        c&L .250/.438/.375

    • Mac says:

      Cammy’s K’s and cold streaks would be a huge drain over Damon’s offense.

      June he had an OPS of .536 and he’s got 120K’s in 419 AB’s, Damon’s worst month was a .745 ops. Then when you look at their situational stats this year, there is no comparison – Damon is an absolute monster.

      Cammy’s been good for Cammy playing for the Brewers and his D would be a big improvement, but if they have to, I hope the Yanks can find a better option – especially for a corner spot.

  21. Tom Zig says:

    Player A

    .299 BA
    .390 OBP
    .589 SLG
    .979 OPS

    Player B

    .302 BA
    .392 OBP
    .573 SLG
    .965 OPS

    Player A is Johnny Damon’s 2009 Home Splits
    Player B is Alex Rodriguez in 2008

  22. mr yankee says:

    I am not a big Reyes fan and the mest will probably resign him, he is more importatnt to them than anyone else. They dont have much in their farm system. I dont get al the hype about fernando martinez, guy sucks at the major league level. I wonder about montero in left and romine catcher of the future? if montero is as bad as I read as a catcher then his bat shuld play well in left or right.

  23. Will says:

    Two things…

    1. I’m sure this is a stupid question, but was does “+ 1″ mean?

    2. 2011 Yankees

    Jeter – SS
    Mauer – C
    Tex – 1B
    Arod – 3B
    Posada – DH
    Cano – 2B
    Swisher – RF
    Jackson – LF
    Gardner – CF

  24. Charlie says:

    Me, I would see if we could get Holliday for a reasonable deal, put him in left, ajax in center, swish in right, and melky be our 4th OF. And see what we could get in a trade for gardner

  25. Chris says:

    I like this scenario. Although, I would probably platoon Melky/Austin for a while when the latter arrives.

  26. Matthew Cohen says:

    Dunn would be great if we can get him.
    Nick Johnson is a free agent and will likely be available for not much.
    His power has diminished but he is still an on-base machine.
    He’s young and will likely be cheap.

  27. Joseph M says:

    Matsui and Damon are for practical purposes the same guy. Left handed hitting leftfielders who can’t field. Add to the mix a 23 year old Austin Jackson who after 5 full minor league seasons should be ready and there is no place at the inn for both Matsui and Damon. I would keep Damon who can be put in the field in an emergency and let Matsui walk. It’s important to keep in mind the Yankees are going to have to start reducing Posada’s work load behind the plate so his DH opportunities will need to go up leaving less and lees of a need for two full time DH’s.

  28. [...] heard the rumblings about Damon and the Yanks. We looked at some early Damon rumors on the 18th and the potential costs of a deal on the 25th. One way or another, Damon and the Yankees will exchange ample conversations about 2010 [...]

  29. [...] briefly touched upon this idea in the past, but Matsui’s value to the team’s offense cannot be understated. Few teams have a DH as [...]

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