While we still have a month left of regular season baseball and, hopefully, a few weeks of October play in the Bronx, nothing dominates the conversation quite like the Hot Stove League does. In his latest weekend roundup, John Perrotto drops in a bit about the Yankees and Johnny Damon:
The Yankees would prefer to re-sign Johnny Damon to a one-year contract for 2010 and allow outfield prospect Austin Jackson a second year to develop at Triple-A, meanwhile pursuing such big-name free-agent outfielders as Matt Holliday and Jason Bay in the offseason.
This is not, of course, the first time we’ve 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 once November rolls around.
What strikes me about Perrotto’s report are the two other pieces. The first part involves Austin Jackson. As a 22-year-old at AAA, Jackson’s numbers are far from terrible. He is hitting .294/.352/.401 and has stolen 22 out of 26 bases. That’s the good of it.
The bad of it is rather extensive. He has hit just four home runs all season; he has struck out 118; and his BABIP is an unsustainable .386. Plugging his numbers into the Minor League Equivalences tool gives us a line of .255/.301/.340. He makes Melky look like an All Star, and it is clear that Jackson needs a least part of another season at AAA.
Next up are the dueling Jason Bay/Matt Holliday rumors that Perrotto drops. For the most part this year, we’ve heard about varying degrees of interest the Yanks may have in these two players. Some sources say the Yankees will kick the tires on Bay — to force the Red Sox to pay more — and Holliday because he’d be a great fit for Yankee Stadium. Other sources say the Yankees are loath to dole out more multi-year contracts for aging outfielders and may not be in a position to do so financially after landing Mark Teixeira last winter.
Between Bay and Holliday, though, my choice would be Holliday. The current Cardinals outfielder is 21 months younger than Bay and has proven that he can hit outside of Coors Field this year. The idea of giving four or five years to either of these players though isn’t one I can readily embrace.
As the calendar marches on, we’ll hear a lot about Damon and the Yanks’ outfield plans for next year. They have a left field vacancy to consider and a center field spot that could use an upgrade. With Jackson potentially waiting in the wings but still some time away, the Yanks have some tough developmental choices to make this winter. How it plays out will be interesting indeed. It always is.
Addendum: Another reason the Yanks might be interested in retaining Damon.