Closing the Damon gap


Earlier today, Mike mentioned briefly that the Yankees and Johnny Damon are still very far apart in their contract negotiations. Both parties would prefer to see Damon in the Bronx, but each side wants a deal on its own terms. I too want to see Damon back simply because he makes the team better than an outfield with Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner, and he gives the Yanks some lineup flexibility. So then how can the Yankees get Damon back in the fold?

A short while ago, Jon Heyman filled in the gaps in Buster Olney’s report. According to Boras buddy Heyman, the Yanks and Damon are two years and $34 million away from an agreement. The Yanks have offered two years at $18 million while Damon and Boras are asking for a new four-year, $52 million deal.

There is, of course, some hyperbole involved here. The Yankees are probably willing to move their deal into the $22-$24 million range over two years, and Boras can’t really expect to get four years or $13 million a year for the 36-year-old Damon. Even in a good market, no team would be willing to give Damon that much money. Whether Damon and Boras are willing to compromise on the years is another issue.

But then what do the Yankees do with Damon? As we’ve seen, his defense isn’t very good any more. His arm was never a plus, and his range numbers are all trending downward. His speed gives him some value on the bases, and he still has some pop in the bat. Thus, Joel Sherman suggests a left field/DH platoon for Damon.

Basically, Damon would DH for half the year and play left field for the other half. The Yanks could then use their glut of outfielders — Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, Jamie Hoffmann — to fill in for Damon while he DHs. When Damon plays the field, the Yanks can use the DH as a rotation spot with Posada getting a good amount of DH starts. He’s penciled for those ABs anyway next year. The Yanks could also use Swisher as a DH for some games with Cabrera or Gardner in right.

All in all, Sherman’s idea is one we’ve long endorsed. Johnny Damon shouldn’t be counted on as an everyday outfielder any longer. His return to the Bronx will depend entirely upon whether or not Boras is willing to compromise, what the Yanks want to do with their roster and how they feel about Hideki Matsui. If Boras doesn’t budget, Damon will wind up the Bobby Abreu of 2009/2010, signing a one-year deal at a cut-rate price. Even then, the Yanks could still benefit.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. CountryClub says:

    You really think they would pay him 11 or 12 mil for 2 years? I don’t see that. Cash was just on The Fan and he made it seem like he has a pretty hard cap that he’s working with. It’ll be interesting to see what that number ends up being.

    • Well, if their initial offer is two years, $18 million, you have to imagine they’re willing to go higher. They’d probably prefer to keep it at $20-$22 million, but the Yanks aren’t the Red Sox. They won’t lose the guy they want over $1 million per year.

      • CountryClub says:

        I hear what you’re saying. But if they really think Cameron (or someone else) is an option, shouldnt they use the hammer in this instance and not budge? I mean they could go up to 20 mil, I guess; but it’s rare for them to really have someone over a barrel. The Yanks would love to have Damon…but they don;t need him. They shouldn’t overspend.

        Of course, overspending all depends on what value the Yanks give him. For all I know, they may think he’s an 11 mil a year player.

      • pollo says:

        Mike Cameron +10.3 UZR/150 in CF. 3.5 WAR
        Johnny Damon -36.1 UZR/150 in LF. 2.2 WAR

        Jus sayin’

        WE LIKE MIKE!>
        WE LIKE MIKE!>
        WE LIKE MIKE!>

        • Randy A. says:

          I agree that Cameron is a far superior defensive player, but a lot of his value in WAR comes from the fact that he is a center fielder. If he played CF for the Yankees he would be just as valuable, but if he played left field (based on his statistics from last year and what you showed above)there is a -10 RAR which would be approximately 1 less WAR. If he played left field for the Yankees, he would be equally valuable as Damon.

          That being said, I agree with you if he comes at a cheaper price than Damon because they would have approximately the same value.

          • Randy A. says:

            (And by -10 RAR, I mean a -10 swing in RAR because a CFs value in RAR is +2.5 while a corner outfielders value in RAR is -7.5)

      • NC Saint says:

        Sure “if” that’s their initial offer, but is there any reason to think it is? (No, Heyman reporting it does not count as a reason; actually, it counts as a reason to think they offered much less.)

    • DBHOF says:

      Country Club I do not see it either. I think that Heyman is doing his normal job of getting Boras propaganda out there. One year 9 to 12 million is what they should offer and move on. Let him play for some slub team for 2 years for the same money. Who is giving Johnny more than two years? If they are good luck.

  2. BklynJT says:

    4 years @ 52 mil. That is completely laughable. Maybe in 10 years he will try to get Arod another 10 year contract too…

    • BklynJT says:

      With 30 mil in incentives for records that he has already broken…

    • Ed says:

      Which is more laughable, wanting 4 years now, or 4 years ago when Boras was comparing Damon to Mantle and DiMaggio and asking for 7 years?

      Boras’s whole approach is to throw out absurd ideas so that when you talk him down, you still end up with a deal higher than anyone expected at the start.

      • BklynJT says:

        Boras is like one of those merchants that peddles fake goods in chinatown. In this case, Damon is a fake Breitling watch.

    • OldYanksFan says:

      I mean, Holy Shit!
      Boris must have bowling balls for testicles!

  3. Mike bk says:

    at this point they should walk away and focus on cameron and/or matsui

    • Why? It’s not as though it’s been a long negotiation. There are other reasons to look at Cameron and Matsui though…

      • Mike bk says:

        im not saying time wise, but obviously we are not dealing with rational participants on the other side both in terms of length and money. i mean if it was 13 vs 9 and the same years fine see what comes out. or if it same money and different years by 1 you can talk about options vs guaranteed but we dont have either in this case.

      • Because if a player doesn’t play accept the Yankees’ first offer or play for a discount for the privilege of wearing the pinstripes, he’s not worth the trouble.

        Same thing every year.

        • Mike bk says:

          9-10 mil is market value for what he is at this point so it is not a discount at all.


          Vinny from Staten Island

          • Nady Nation says:

            Enough with Sabathia already! He’s making the Yankees look like clowns! Bring me Penny, Lowe, and Manny and let’s go to war!

            /Francesa’d (and ohhh yes, he did in fact say that last offseason)

        • toad says:

          Not a question of accepting a first offer, but of being reasonable in the light of what Damon is likely to get elsewhere.

          Boras is very good at what is called “anchoring,” – being the first to state a figure sets that as a sort of reference point for future discussion. I think 2/18 is not lowball, though going up a notch is OK, I guess. But that’s all.

          • As was pointed out in the post, Boras asked for a seven year for Damon four years ago.

            It’s just intentional bluster.

            • Jay CT says:

              There is still logic to what Toad is saying. By making the first offer, you do gain an advantage. Psycholgically, a person either walks away shaking their head and deciding you are a maniac or walks away thinking, “How can I get this lowered.” Tommy isright, but so is Toad.

              Any word what the Cards offered Holliday? I expect Heyman to have an exclusive

        • Rob says:

          I’m just curious here. What happened to “getting younger and more athletic?” One guy (Granderson) does this to an old team? Why are we even still looking at Damon for more than one year? Go with DeJesus, Rivera or Byrd in LF. Split DH wish Swish, Mats and rotation. BTW; Joba and Huges back in rotation?? What a joke!

    • DBHOF says:

      They should walk about because there is not huge market for Damon. I doubt any NL team even wants this guy for that type of money for two years. Who in the AL will go three? NOBODY not when you can get a DH who hits more home runs for less money and for a year or two. Damon is a DH, who happens to play LF.

      I would like the guy back, but enough of overpaying guys in both years and dollars. We have done that wayyyyy too much.

  4. Charlie says:

    i would hope they could get it down to one year, 12-13 mil. But 4 years is just fucking insane if that’s true. i really do think its best for the yankees that damon is on the team though. that lf/dh platoon thing seems like the best solution to have fill those spots

  5. dkidd says:

    has matsui said he will accept a 1 yr deal?

  6. Mike RI says:

    PLEASE can we drop the Cameron talk !. 2 years at 20 million is right on.

  7. I’d be fine with Johnny at a one or two at 12 AAV.

    I wonder, though, if you could get, say, Delgado and Cameron for a collective 11-13 AAV, but for just one year. That may be the smarter option. Two bats for the price of one.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      That would be the best case scenario for me.

      • ColoYank says:

        As long as Delgado is healthy … maybe he doesn’t have to be 100%, but I’d like him to be at least 70%.

        Hey, Salty, isn’t it nice that the high temp today isn’t in the single digits for a change?

        • Salty Buggah says:

          Yea, it does depend on his health but I will assume for now that he will be at least 70%.

          And yea, it’s pretty great. It’s 41 today! I just hope the roads in my neighborhood finally show after being covered in snow for what seems like ages.

    • dkidd says:

      amazing if we could get cameron and delgado (or thome) on 1 yr deals for the remaining 14M

      i would miss damon, but that’s a way better use of the money

      still curious if we have any interest in sheets

    • Mike bk says:

      possible we could get matsui and cameron for 16-18? deal melk, ends up net 13-15.

  8. I’d prefer not to give Damon a two year deal, but 2/18 isn’t bad. If his price doesn’t come down after this current round of negotiations and the next (so in the next 10-14 days), let him walk, bring Matsui in to DH and let Melky play LF.


    As Steve H. suggested: keep pursuing Cameron if he’s not signed and investigate possible cheap DH options.

  9. TheLastClown says:

    1. Cap’n
    2. Johnny ‘body of an eighteen year old girl’ Damon
    3. Siexy Tiexy
    4. Nails Shu-Sheff-Ski
    5. The scourge of Tokyo
    6. Urine Trouble
    7. Dominicano perezoso
    8. Swishaholic
    9. In Grand Demand


  10. Salty Buggah says:

    Even 2 years seem too much to me. 1+ an option is OK but I dont really want 2 guaranteed years. I’d hope the Yanks can wait this out because a 1+1 deal might be possible down the road if no one else is offering him anything.

    I still want Cammy over JD but JD will be fine too.

  11. dan says:

    Damon in the outfield makes the Yankees a beter team? What planet are you living on? In the field, he is a disaster waiting to happen. He has no range, he is afraid of the wall, throws like a girl and even when he catches a fly ball you have your heart in your throat becauses he turns routine fly balls into an adventure.
    Melky is so far superior to Damon in the field. With even minimal improvement he will surpass Damon next year offensively, unless you believe that 2009 was not a fluke year for a clearly aging player with obviously deteriorating skills. Damon as a dh or bat of the bench is acceptable. Anything more is tragically hopeful. Over pay him for one year and if he won’t take it, move on.

    • CountryClub says:

      Damon is awful in the field. But comparing Melky to him at the plate is laughable. Damon’s worst year at the plate is better than melky’s best.

    • Damon on the roster makes the Yanks a better team. If you truly think Melky can approach Damon’s offensive production or that Melky’s so-so defense can overcompensate for the drastic offensive differences between the two, I have to wonder what planet you’re on.

    • Tampa Yankee says:

      Take it easy, dan. Why don’t you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while.

  12. DBHOF says:

    If the Yanks can stomach 2 years at 18 and he is their DH ONLY in year two that might work out but in no way should they break 20 mill or two years. There are too many other cheaper options. Johnny will break down and soon. You do not beg out of a deciding game of a WS game due to cramps if you are a healthy man.

  13. dkidd says:

    i don’t know how firm the budget is, but another reason cameron for 1 yr might be preferable to damon for 2 is next year’s free agent class

  14. Jordan says:

    Damon isn’t worth anything more than $12 million in 2010. He’s not going to get better, and he was worth $10.3, $9.3, $16.4 and $13.6 million in each of the last seasons. So technically, he was overpaid the last 4 years. I mean, that’s splitting hairs, but call the contract worth the production. Another identical contract is ridiculous, even for Boras. He’s not a CFer anymore so right there the contract is less. He’s also 4 years older and getting to the point now-a-days where players who aren’t PED users collapse or are Mike Cameron. He’s been solid, but basically performed how he should have.

    IMO, the 2 yr $18 is the perfect contract. It’s realistic for both sides. That being said, if Damon says 2 years $20 mil, I’d hit print and get the pen ready.

    If he won’t budge off 2 years and approx. $10 mil, tell Boras he screwed his client and hang up. Call Cameron and offer him a 1 yr deal worth $8-10 mil and even throw in a team option for $12 mil. I’m almost sure he’d be worth that.

    And sign Matsui. Please sign Matsui. LOOGY nightmare.

    • pollo says:

      Cameron can be had for 7.5.


      • DBHOF says:

        You really think he can at a one year for 7.5? If so peace out Brett you are officially in AAA, and Melk is the 4th OF if they can still afford his salary.

        One year of Cam at that price trumps Damon on any two year deal near 20 mill.

    • DBHOF says:

      “who aren’t PED users collapse or are Mike Cameron”

      Mike Cameron is technically a PED user and has been suspended for them. I also think by looking at his body type he has been doing more than just greenies. But I also think Damon and 80 to 90 percent of the other players in the league at one time or another or their whole career have been on some for of PED. I know people here are not a fan of this sort of thing but the first sentence is a fact, the rest at least is my opinion.

    • BklynJT says:

      Are those #s his “calculated” value from fangraphs? Cause if so, I would argue that he isn’t even worth that much. Those numbers may be helpful when comparing players and their contracts, but not when determining a dollar value (in terms of an actual contract) for a player.

  15. Kiersten says:

    4 years at $52 million is just so hilarious.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      IMO, so is 2 @ $20.

      Whoever takes the lowest one year deal gets a shot at #28.

      Let the limbo competition begin between Matsui & Damon.

  16. Evil Empire says:

    If we can get Damon and still afford a 2nd tier DH (Thome/Delgado), I’d go with that.

    If its a choice of Damon or Cameron + Thome/Delgado (Thomgado? Delthome?), its an easy call to go for the latter option.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      So you’re willing to get a separate DH and let Damon play the field? I dont think I’d do that. Damon or Thome/Delgado and Cameron is probably better.

      • Evil Empire says:

        Sure, I’d let Johnny play in LF most of the time in 2010. The offense is stacked and the defense will be acceptable.

        I mean, that’s what you’d be signing Damon up as, a left fielder who occasionally DHs. What Sherman says is fine but its not the reality of how the situation would actually play out.

  17. JMK THE OVERSHARE's Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor says:

    I suppose I’ve been a bit of a flip-flopper regarding the decision to not offer Damon arb. At first I thought, “Hell yeah, it’s one year and if he doesn’t take it we’re flush with top picks next year,” but then figured the risk is too great that he’d accept arb—a risk greater than the value of the pick.

    But now (and I realize we’re early in “negotiations”), if they haven’t come down from three years and $39 million, hmmm….maybe we should have offered?

    What do you guys think?

    (Fun off-topic side note: I commented on a friend’s status saying, “Sweet boobies, we should go out sometime” to one of her friends, clearly not serious. Her white-knight boyfriend gets REALLY upset and threatens to kill me (on the internet. I know! Hah!). I responded by having a techie nerd send him a nasty computer virus. So, I met my goal of pissing people off for no reason and also ruined some d-bag’s computer. WAS GREAT DAY!)

    • TheLastClown says:

      I think that yeah, Damon should’ve been offered Arb.

      Then we wouldn’t be looking at the choice between Damon & Matsui.

      If Damon wants back, he gets a high one year deal, and Matsui negotiations go on as they are currently.

      You replace starting Gardbrera w/ Grandaddy. That’s it. Sweet scenario.

      All told as it stands though, I wouldn’t mind seeing Johnny walk. Throw Swish in the 2 hole, take some pressure off Curtis & let him bat near the bottom of the order.

    • I’ve been beating this drum for two years now, I agree with you. When making a decision whether to offer arbitration to a FA, reading the market is definitely very important, but the more important next step is to read whether the player will accept or decline the offer. I think the Yankees should have offered arbitration to Damon this year not because I think he’s worth $13M-$15M for one year, but because I think he would have declined the offer… In which case the Yankees still could have negotiated with him or they could have taken the draft pick compensation when he signed elsewhere.

      I felt the same way last year with Abreu and, I would argue, what happened to Abreu shows that he probably would have declined the arbitration offer – a guy who stays on the market that long because he’s expecting a multi-year offer isn’t likely to decide to accept a one-year arbitration deal within one week of the decision to offer arbitration. The decision last year is much more defensible, obviously, since the downside of having Abreu on a huge contract last year would have been very negative for the Yankees, but it’s similar to the Damon situation in that I think the Yankees read the market correctly, but I don’t think they read the player correctly.

      In the end, being conservative with these decisions isn’t such a negative that I have a big problem with it, but I do think the Yankees playing it so safe cost them 1 and potentially, pending resolution of the Damon situation, 2 first round draft picks and supplemental first round draft picks in the last 2 seasons. Taking those calculated risks would really have helped build the farm system… 2, and maybe 4 1st round draft picks and 2, and maybe 4 supplemental draft picks is nothing to sneeze at.

  18. dkidd says:

    who are the other suitors for damon? switching leagues doesn’t seem like a good idea. honestly the res sox might make the most sense

  19. CountryClub says:

    The big problem here is that I don’t see Boras letting Damon sign until Bay and Holliday are gone. I’m sure he thinks that a team that wanted one of Bay/Holliday, and lost out, will turn their attention to Damon.

    Hopefully, Damon tells Boras to just get the deal done.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      That and Damon is probably most likely to be signed by the Yanks and if he sign now, Holliday and Bay lose some leverage (despite the Yanks denying interest)by having the Yanks out of the picture.

      • Evil Empire says:

        Y’know, I didn’t think about that. Making sure Holliday signs first behooves Boras, just because he can play off the Yankees. It might end up not helping Damon though, if he makes the Yankees wait too long, they’ll go sign someone else and maybe he doesn’t even get 2/19

  20. BklynJT says:

    With the precedent that Abreu and Figgons set, the cheapest you get Damon for is 9 mil a year. Maybe if Boras waits too long you can get it for cheaper, but I doubt it since Cashman already offered 2 years at 18. My bet is that Cashman holds his position and gets Damon at that value or at most 2/20 (since we are the Yankees and are expected to overpay….)

  21. Salty Buggah says:

    I wonder what Cashman did when Boras told him about 4/52. He probably burst out laughing and hung up.

  22. jim p says:

    How did Matsui’s outfield-playing demo go, does anyone know?

  23. Ted Nelson says:

    I really don’t see that much value in re-signing Damon now that the team has Granderson. If you believe in Granderson enough to give up 3 prospects, including one of the best OF prospects in the game and a ML ready starter, you should believe in him enough to put him in the 2 hole.
    What are the chances of Damon matching his power numbers from last season? (And what are they in other stadiums besides YS?) He can’t field and he’s a #2 hitter who has lost his speed. I don’t see him being worth even 9 mill per when there are so many other options at DH. Matsui and Delgado both had higher OPS last season, and Cameron plays on 2 sides of the ball.
    Where’s Damon’s leverage? Have there been rumors of any other team interested, let alone making an offer? The Yankees have tons of leverage and Damon has none.

  24. 007 says:

    I like Damon but 2 years $20 million is really way too much for a player that is really a DH. It would be better to invest in a younger player at this point

  25. ADam says:

    Those two are smokin crack.(Damon Boras)

  26. Hey ZZ says:

    What other teams do you guys see willing to offer Damon 2 years?

  27. vin says:

    Gee 4/52 sure sounds familiar…

    Oh yeah, that’s what Damon signed for when he was 32. Makes perfect sense that he would get that again at age 36.

    Boras is just doing his job… start high and go lower; Cashman will start low and go higher. The difference between Boras and other GMs is that he starts so much higher than anyone else.

  28. Damon not worth the money! says:

    Damon can’t play 150 games anymore and shouldn’t be paid like he can so pass.

  29. JMK THE OVERSHARE's Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor says:

    I’m going to put this out as my first official Bold Prediction of the off-season:

    Carlos Delgado is going to rake next year. .290 35 119


  30. Chasman says:

    Granderson was described as a young Johnnie Damon. If he is then why do we need the old Johnnie Damon? The first time Granderson parks one in the bullpen or lays down a drag bunt single most Yankee fans will forget about Damon. We dont need 38 year old outfielders with no arm clogging up the roster. Thank you Johnnie.

  31. DontChaKnow says:

    Ok How bout this one. The Yanks dont want to meet Damon’s demands, so they sign Matsui for DH on a one year deal. Then they trade Gardner away for a bullpen piece and keep the Melk Man. Cashman goes out and gets a low cost RH bat to hit in place of Granderson spot in the lineup (say someone like Gomes or Thames) and moves Melk to Center and one of those guys to left on the Lester/lefty days. It’s not the most ideal, but I still dont think it’s that bad. Also, maybe they have Montero in AAA in wait if for some reason Matsui gets hurt and he can fill in the DH role and get a little big league experience.

    • Evil Empire says:

      Besides the part about Montero (because there’s no way he should be in the big leagues at all in 2010), I wouldn’t mind this plan. But there are alternative routes I’d prefer.

      If we don’t get Damon, Mike Cameron is option #2 for me.

      • DontChaKnow says:

        Yea I guess I kind of forgot about Cameron on that one, I’d like to see him especially since you can get him on the cheaper side on a short contract

    • TheLastClown says:

      At least for 2010, I want to see GrandDaddy get every opportunity to work on his hitting mechanics & hit Lester et al. himself.

  32. E-ROC says:

    Sign Cameron and Delgado.

  33. dkidd says:

    i just checked boras’ client list

    how the hell is willie bloomquist a boras client?

  34. MattG says:

    Why are they even talking? Just walk away from that table, Cash, and call up Mike Cameron. He’d like your 2/18 offer just fine, I’d say.

    For all those that think Granderson or Cameron would be less valuable as a left-fielder, I don’t think the outfield works that way. Cammy can just swing around that much further towards RF, as Grandy covers a little more of the left field gap. Grandy can also play more shallow than the average LFer, taking away a few more singles.

    • Evil Empire says:

      Wouldn’t Granderson play in CF and Cameron in LF?

      I would think Grandy has more range than Cameron at the current stages of their respective careers.

      Your point remains valid, nonetheless, though I’d prefer Damon for 2 years over Cameron for 1.

      • JMK THE OVERSHARE's Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor says:

        Cameron’s put up better UZR numbers in CF. If one struggles, switch them. Or bench one and have Jeter move to LF.

      • MattG says:

        In all honesty, I would bet the Yankees have an awesome software, in which they can write any player’s name into a position, enter a vector for a baseball, and find out exactly who would and wouldn’t make the catch. I bet they can position them within a yard of the perfect spot on the diamond for their talent.

  35. Warren says:

    Cashman knows there is not a rush. There is plenty of time to kill before the 1st of March 2010.

  36. [...] Damon appears the team’s top target, but recent stories indicate that the two parties remain far apart. In fact, Damon says that the team hasn’t made an offer yet and he hasn’t made his [...]

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