Oh, Johnny, what ever are we going to do with you? Your public statements are so fickle, and the Yanks would like to bring you back. But let’s be realistic. You’re 36, and 36-year-old outfielders who are declining in the field don’t get to sign a multi-year deal without some sort of pay cut.
But more on that in a minute. First, a recap. Previously on “As the Johnny Damon Turns,” we discussed how Boras and Damon seemed to be at odds over Damon’s free agency. On numerous occasions during the season, Damon expressed a desire to stay in New York. He’s enjoyed his time with the Yankees, and his bat certainly took to the home run-friendly new stadium.
Yet, just a few days after the Yanks won the World Series, Scott Boras, Damon’s agent, spoke out against a hometown discount. Still, Damon, on a Sirius XM appearance, discussed his wishes to stay in New York, and Boras must have cringed. By publicly reiterating his desires to remain in the Bronx, Damon was slowly losing negotiation leverage. Why would the Yanks feel the need to pay him much if he actually wants to stay in the Bronx? Shouldn’t he take fewer years and less money for the stability and happiness it could bring?
Yesterday, in what will probably be his last public statements in a few weeks, Damon again spoke about staying in New York, but this time, his words had a twist to it. Now on board with the Boras program, Damon says he won’t entertain a paycut. Mark Feinsand reports:
Damon’s preference is to remain with the Yankees, and while he has made that wish well-known, sources close to the veteran say he isn’t about to give the Bombers a big discount to stay in pinstripes. Although he’s told friends all season that he would take a shorter deal from the Yankees than he would elsewhere, it is believed that he would want a higher average annual salary if he were to take fewer years.
A source close to Damon said that the outfielder believes his statistics over the past two years have been good enough that unless the market crumbles entirely like it did last winter for Bobby Abreu, he doesn’t feel he should take a pay cut. Damon chose not to discuss his contract desires Sunday, saying only that his first wish is to stay in pinstripes.
“I want to continue to be on a team that can win and to play in front of great fans – and we know that the Yankees fill both of those,” Damon said. “I think everyone knows my desire to come back. Still, every time I’ve been a free agent, I’ve ended up switching teams. It’s the nature of the beast. If people are interested, I’m going to listen.”
A few weeks ago, Mike noted how the Abreu contract would provide a comp for the Damon negotiations, and that reality is slowly coming to pass. Boras will probably not allow Damon to take less than Abreu, and the uber-agent probably has designs on a deal similar to Damon’s $13 million-per contract that just ended.
So what to do? As I discussed yesterday, the Yankees have to know when to turn over their roster. Although a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal for Matt Holliday doesn’t strike me as a good idea, over-committing to Damon isn’t either. At best, Damon is a subpar left fielder with a good bat; at worst, he’s an adequate replacement for Hideki Matsui as the Yanks’ full-time DH. Anything longer than two years is too long; anything more than $10 million a year is too much.