Jan
14

Braves still on the Damon trail

By

We’re just 35 days away from pitchers and catchers, and we’ve still yet to hear of another team making Johnny Damon an offer. We’ve heard of teams interested in him, both as rumors from sources and as speculation. But even when someone reported on an actual offer, someone else shot it down. Johnny will certainly receive an offer, maybe a few, in the next few weeks, and one will likely come from the Braves. They remain interested, and figure to be the most logical Damon destination other than the Bronx.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the reporter who shot down the rumored Damon offer, says that the two parties remain a match, “and it could happen now that his price has presumably shrunk along with his market.” While the price drop remains a presumption, Damon’s market has certainly shrunk over the past few weeks. His potential suitors, including the Braves, have all added pieces that would make him less of a priority, if not preclude him altogether.

With Juan Uribe, Mark DeRosa, and Aubrey Huff in the fold, the Giants probably don’t have room for Damon. Seattle reportedly expressed interest earlier in the off-season, but have since added Milton Bradley in addition to Ken Griffey Jr. That pretty much fills the LF and DH spots, and the team also has a number of low-cost options, such as Ryan Langerhans and youngster Michael Saunders, so adding Damon seems out of the question. That leaves New York and Atlanta.

Even with those teams, Damon has little leverage. The Yankees have made no secret of their budget and what remains of it. While that could expand under the right circumstances, and while they could attempt to trade Chad Gaudin and his presumed $3 million arbitration figure, both don’t remain likely possibilities right now. While the Braves could use all the outfield help they could get, they do have a few options in 2010. In addition to Nate McLouth, they’ve added Melky Cabrera and Eric Hinske, and have Matt Diaz and top prospect Jason Heyward. Sure, Damon is better than Melky, Hinske, and Diaz, and is a better bet than Heyward. But the Braves do have options.

What has become apparent from Damon’s situation, along with Bobby Abreu’s from last year, is that teams just aren’t that willing to sign veteran corner outfielders to multiyear deals. Because the player seeks a long-term deal at the beginning of the off-season, he loses out and the price for even one year of service dwindles. The Yankees apparently offered two years and $14 million in December. Is there another offer like that out there now? It doesn’t appear so. Damon will probably have to settle for one year at a $6 or $7 million salary. That’s what happens when your options balk at your demands and seek alternatives.

Categories : Hot Stove League

70 Comments»

  1. Tom Zig says:

    is 6mil too much?

  2. radnom says:


    We’re just 35 days away from pitchers and catchers

    Holy shit.

  3. paul says:

    I like the patience B Cash has been showing. Stay the course…

  4. JeffG says:

    I wonder if the Royals would be interested in taking him back? They could use a DH/Outfielder. It’s a shame that Z.G. has to loose games because there is too little offense generated.

    • The Royals were my dark horse candidate all winter.

    • pete says:

      i dunno if damon really solves any of their problems. IMO, they should be looking to shed as much salary as they can right now. I think they should try to pull in a ton of prospects by trading ZG, Bannister, and Soria. That team is at least 5 years away from being truly competitive – by that time none of those guys are going to be as valuable as the prospects they get for them could be.

  5. mryankee says:

    With Beltran going down for injury. You can add the Mets as a potential suitor. Oh well I guess we have to believe in Gardner.

  6. Braves outfielders on the 40-man (not including the DFA’d Brandon Jones), with 2010 salaries and 2009 PA and wRC+:

    Nate McLouth – 4.5M, 396 PA, 115+
    Matt Diaz – 2.55M, 410 PA, 139+
    Melky Cabrera – 3.1M, 540 PA, 102+
    Eric Hinske – 1.0M, 224 PA, 111+
    Gregor Blanco – 415k, 42 PA, 39+
    Jordan Schafer – 415k, 195 PA, 63+

    I suppose they could put both Blanco and Schafer back in AAA and roll with a starting OF of Damon-McLouth-Diaz, with Melky and Hinske on the bench.

    But only if Damon’s price is cheap, like 5M cheap. If he asks for more than that, I bet they just rotate Diaz/Melky/Hinske through the two corner OF spots and let one of the two youngsters win the 5th OF spot. They’ve got decent options there even without Damon.

  7. So this Damon rumor + this Melky signing doesn’t make much sense to me. Melky is less valuable as a trade chit now that he’s making $3.1 million, and the Braves have a full outfield. Do they really need/want/have room for Damon?

    • Rose says:

      I’ve been thinking this same thing ever since the Melky trade was published…with information saying that the Braves are still seeking another outfielder…

      I never quite understood why…

    • Ed says:

      Don’t forget that the Yankees included $500k towards Melky’s salary as part of the Vazquez trade. Usually when that happens, if the player gets traded again the the money follows him.

      So consider Melky at $2.6m. Still doesn’t change the “I don’t like him at 7 figures” thought process, but it’s still 16% off his salary, which helps in trade talks.

    • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis says:

      its boras!!1!!111!!

  8. Rose says:

    This is where baseball players show their true intelligence. Jason Varitek (“Mastermind” behind the dish) gambled against arbitration a few years ago wanting even more money…and failed miserably…finally settling for much less than HALF.

    Here we are a few years from that point…so players should have even more of an idea of what’s going on. The best players available are still getting the hefty 8-figure deals…but the older, ready-for-decline-at-any-minute players’ prices are going down exponentially…at a rapid rate.

    Johnny Damon needs to think to himself. “I’m only going to get 1-year regardless it looks like…do I want to take a little bit more money to play 1 year in Atlanta? Where I probably won’t be nearly as productive? Or is the smarter thing to take a little bit less…to play another season in New York where their field enhances my production…where I could probably get a similar deal (to Atlanta’s offer this year) next year…with showing yet another year of durability on my resume.

    Personally, I would take a few million less THIS YEAR…to keep my numbers going with the Yankees…who also have a much better chance to win the WS…than go to the Atlanta Braves…just because they’re offering a few more million. But that’s JMO.

    • Personally, I would take a few million less THIS YEAR…to keep my numbers going with the Yankees…who also have a much better chance to win the WS…than go to the Atlanta Braves…just because they’re offering a few more million.

      I agree, that’s probably what you’d do. Because A) you’re a Yankee fan and B) you’re not Johnny Damon.

      You don’t really know what Johnny Damon is feeling. None of us do, really, myself included. But, there is a precedent, a pattern to this from countless other free agents who have been in Johnny Damon’s position before.

      Very few of them EVER take the smaller money deal to return to their previous employer, they almost always take the larger money deal (or even money deal, for that matter) to go elsewhere. Maybe Damon’s the exception… but probably not.

      • Rose says:

        Well I used the Varitek situation to try and squash any thoughts about me being entirely partial. But Yes, not only am I a Yankee fan…but it’s the smarter thing to do. Best chance for a ring, best showcase for my talent, etc.

        The difference is 1 year deal with the Braves with a potential signficant offensive decline (defense has already started to)? And be out in Gary Sheffield territory next off season…

        OR

        1 year deal for a little less money with the Yankees…showcase your best stuff on the grandest stage again…and potentially get a bigger deal next year.

        Now, none of this is guaranteed…but nothing in life ever is.

        • “The smarter thing to do” is a very subjective judgment. Damon (and you, if you were in Damon’s shoes) would probably conclude that the smarter thing to do is to take the most amount of money available right now, this offseason, whatever team that comes from.

          • Rose says:

            Damon (and you, if you were in Damon’s shoes) would probably conclude that the smarter thing to do is to take the most amount of money available right now, this offseason, whatever team that comes from.

            Isn’t this just as subjective of a judgment? lol

            • It is, yes.

              Which is why I said “probably.”

              • Rose says:

                Ahhh…I have much to learn as a young grasshopper…

                But you’re right because that is what’s probably going to happen. But it doesn’t necessarily make it the best all around option (when combining the next few years of his career together).

                Then again, nobody knows anything for sure…for all we know he could have some freak career ending injury where the higher salary right now would be smarter…oh well

                • RL says:

                  And let’s not forget, the Player’s Union and Boras will push for him to go with the highest offer (especially the union).

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

        Just to add to what you said… Everyone who thinks players should take an offer that is not the most attractive financial offer needs to think very seriously about these words:

        “Personally, I would take a few million less…”
        [Emphasis added]

        A few million dollars. Think about that. I know these guys make a lot of money, but we can’t assume that “a few million” dollars isn’t significant to them. We’re taking about a very large difference between those offers.

        I’m not saying Damon would definitely take one offer over the other, but let’s not be so casual about thinking these guys should walk away from that much money.

        • JMK aka The Overshare's Garden Apartment Complex says:

          Also, Damon’s money has been frozen due to a Ponzi scheme shakeup. That’s a significant amount of cash, especially considering his present circumstance.

    • scoopemup says:

      If he replicates 09 next season,after no bids this offseason,and with him being a year older,who would pay him what he wants next year.The baseball economic model has changed.Older players will find that young relatively cheap players with some upside,will be the focus of clubs.

  9. PaaakmaaaN the second says:

    Why does Johnny Damon still think that Scott Boras can get him big money, Damon should just come crawling back to the Yanks asking for a 1 year 5 mil and we’ll all be happy.

    Imagine with Damon hittin around 20+ hrs, Granderson 30+, and Swisher with 30+

    GG.

    • Why does Johnny Damon still think that Scott Boras can get him big money

      He probably doesn’t. He does think, however, that Boras stands to get him MORE money, however moderate that MORE is at this point, than any other option at present. If you’re Damon and you want to fire Boras, you do it during this coming season, in advance of your next round of contract negotiations. No point in changing horses midstream, though.

      Damon should just come crawling back to the Yanks asking for a 1 year 5 mil and we’ll all be happy.

      Except for Damon, of course.

      • PaaakmaaaN the second says:

        Damon should just giv that old A-rod a call and ask him how it felt when he flipped off Boras and signed his own contract

        • Yeah, because the situations are totally analogous to each other.

          No, wait… that’s wrong, they’re nothing at all like each other. My bad.

        • A.D. says:

          Well A-Rod went on to sign the most lucrative contract in history, Damon will do nothing of the sort, so they’re not the same at all. Plus A-Rod still paid Boras his cut.

        • Steve H says:

          If Scott Boras hadn’t been Damon’s agent for all of these years, how much less money would Damon have made? $20 million? $30 million? I’m not sure the exact number, but aside from his age 36 free agent season, Boras has been nothing but great for Damon, and the recession has certainly paid a part in Boras’ “failure.”

        • I doubt that happened. It sounds like an “oh shit” plan to me.

        • pete says:

          i’m still convinced that whole charade was a PR ploy to get a-rod back into the good graces of the fans. not that i’m against it – it was clearly the correct business decision to opt out, and it DID appear to appease the fans a fair amount. nonetheless, the current state of things between a-rod and boras (and the fact that boras even got a cut of that very deal) tells me that a-rod probably didn’t “flip off” scott.

  10. Zack says:

    Any chance the Marlins go after Damon?

    They have to raise payroll anyways

  11. curt jester says:

    If the Yanks were honest they would have told Damon they paid him too much. How is it that he was paid like $13 million a year and does great and helps win them a World Series, and gets offered like half his salary for half the time; and then signs someone with an injury plagued career for $5.5 million, nano seconds later? The Yanks will have nothing to blame but themselves if they lose a pennant this year with such tactics. If Johnny were to get the game winning hit in the World Series with the Braves against the Yankees, divine, poetic, justice would be revealed.

    CJ

    • How is it that he was paid like $13 million a year and does great and helps win them a World Series, and gets offered like half his salary for half the time; and then signs someone with an injury plagued career for $5.5 million, nano seconds later? The Yanks will have nothing to blame but themselves if they lose a pennant this year with such tactics.

      http://knowyourmeme.com/i/124/.....-wrong.jpg (safe)

    • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis says:

      If Johnny were to get the game winning hit in the World Series with the Braves against the Yankees, divine, poetic, justice would be revealed.

      everyone else on the phillies, dodgers, cardinals, cubs, rockies, and marlins and mets would have to be injured so the braves make the WS by default

      • Meh, I dunno about that.

        Jurjjens-Hanson-Hudson-Lowe-Kawakami is a pretty dynamite rotation. Their bullpen is solid, too, including the Wagner and Saito additions and the Moylan/O’Flaherty/Bennett holdovers.

        Escobar-Chipper-McCann-Diaz-McLouth-Glaus-Diaz + Damon, that’s a decent offense. The Braves are already legit wildcard contenders, adding Damon would make them that much better.

        They’ve got a playoffs shot.

    • Steve H says:

      When you go to the grocery store, and they tell you you’re groceries cost $75, do you pay them $125, just for the hell of it? That is what paying Johnny Damon any more than $4-$5 million is equivalent to. The definition of worth is what someone is willing to pay, no one is willing to pay Johnny Damon much money right now, so why would the Yankees? The Yankees had by far the biggest offer on the table for Damon this offseason, and he turned it down. That’s on him, not the Yankees. He would jump on that deal in a second now, and again, that’s on him.

    • pete says:

      the yankees do not have unlimited money. they also are not going to pay him again for 2009, since they already did. They’re thinking about 2010, where he isn’t likely to repeat his 2009. Throw in his awful defense, and it becomes clear that he’s not worth anywhere close to $13 million on this market.

      Now what I’ll give you is that Johnny’s 2010 performance is likely to be worth an easy $7 or 8 million. But there are a couple of things that hinder the yankees from even offering (or, to be more accurate, re-offering) that:
      1. From everything we’ve heard and can tell, that figure is literally not within the yankees budget range. They appear to have about $2 million left, and could figure to free up another $2.5 if they trade Gaudin (which they’re probably loathe to do, because Gaudin does add considerable value to this club, which the upgrade from Gardner to Damon may not eclipse). But that still doesn’t add up to $7+.
      2. Nobody IS offering that much. To the yankees, Johnny Damon is not a necessity. Even with the potential (key word) black hole of Brett Gardner, they still have the best lineup in baseball, a great rotation, an excellent bullpen, and significantly improved defense. The team already looks better than its WS-champ, 103-win 2009 counterpart. While Damon certainly could help, there is absolutely no reason that the yankees should feel any need to bid against themselves to ensure that they lock down his services. Within their price range, Damon would be a wonderful addition to this club. But they are nowhere near a position where they should be forced out of their price range for a player who can’t play defense and doesn’t hit much on the road, when they have a tremendous defender who can probably cut it as a #9 hitter already in place.

      Look – if Johnny Goes and signs with the Braves for $3 million, then I understand being irked at the yanks for not matching that, as it’d be a veritable steal – basically $1+ million per WAR, or half the price of 2009 yankee wins. But unless he shows interest in signing for that low, the ball will rest firmly in the yankees’ court on this negotiation. They do not need him as much as he needs them. If he wants to play next year and put up respectable numbers, he’s best off taking a “lowball” offer from the yankees. If not, they’re fine without him.

  12. steve s says:

    If Damon told Cashman he’d play for the minimum salary I still don’t think Yanks would take him back at this point. Someone in Yankeeland floated a story during this off-season that a poorly paid Damon would not be a good clubhouse risk. Something fishy is going on and perhaps this has never been about money by the Yanks but rather a decision to part ways with Damon but feigning a little interest early on so as to not unduly upset the fan base as the Yanks never responded positively (based on everything I’ve seen written about this situation) to any overtures Damon made that he wanted to sign with the Yanks.

    • Steve H says:

      The Yankees made Damon the highest offer he’s received all offseason. That’s not feigning interest, that’s Damon misreading the market.

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

        steves,
        i dont know that what you said are mutually exclusive (conjugations ughs!)…the yankees may have very well believed that their offer was unacceptable to damon at that time.

      • steve s says:

        Damon’s misreading the market is definitely in play here but the Yanks showed zero interest in signing him even when he came significantly down in price. That is very un-Yankeee like and the fishy part here.

    • pete says:

      so you’re saying, if damon, off a 130 wRC+ season, with career numbers in the 120s, with moderate power that plays well in yankee stadium and no L/R platoon split (albeit a mighty home-road split and terrible defense) offered to play for them for $450,000, they would turn him down?
      huh, let me think about that
      ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..no.

  13. Bo says:

    Count on the Yankees looking for a bat because Gardner cant hit. I’d much rather give Damon money than give up good prospects for a LF.

  14. Mo says:

    Since Arizona signed Adam LaRoch, expect Conor Jackson to be traded. He would be a perfect fit. I don’t think he would cost much in the way of prospects or contract.

  15. pete luciano says:

    Damon hit better than Tex, Swisher, Cano, Posada, and Melky in the post season. Do any of you think Gardner or any of the other banjo players left would do as well. Sign Damon, give him 6-7 mil for a yr and he’ll do very well. Bat him 2nd and get Johnson down in the line up where he belongs. In the 2 hole he’ll clog the basepaths.

  16. Dave says:

    I think it’s pretty clear no National League team wants to touch Damon because they know he is a DH. And no American League team is that interested because they know he won’t slug like a DH away from Yankee stadium.

    For $5 million, they might take a chance. But not for the money Damon thought he was worth. Boras really miscalculated teams movement toward defensive, youth, and the understanding Damon was a huge product of his environment.

  17. Mo says:

    If Arizona releases Byrnes (they eat $11 mil), Yanks will sign him perfect complement with a 6 m weak armed Damon and LH Granderson

  18. pete luciano says:

    Mo Be real, now we’re going after players released by the Diamondbacks instead of proven players like Damon. He hits lefties, is great in the clubhouse, a perfect 2 hole hitter, perfect in Yankee Stadium, for God’s sake he’s cheap enough now, just sign him and forget all the unproven players.

    • Mo says:

      If Arizona releases Byrnes (they eat $11 mil), Yanks will sign him perfect complement with a 6 m weak armed Damon and LH Granderson

      “going after players released by the Diamondbacks instead of proven players like Damon”

      Byrnes (if released) in addition to a 6-7m Johnny. Rumor Has Byrnes soon to be released. Perfect fifth OF with Yanks, 4th being Gardner.

  19. jonathan says:

    Say what you want about what Damon is worth, but do you know what I don’t get? How come all these diehard Yankee fans are actually buying the giant load of shit that we have this firm budget. You’re telling me we win the WS and open a new stadium, two huge new revenue streams, and we need to drop payroll 20 million? What are we the Marlins? It’s not the Yankee way to go the cheap route when a few extra million can make your roster complete. Say what you want about Gardner but the guy isn’t a MLB starting player. He simply does not have the hitting skill to warrant a full season of at bats. He makes a decent 4th OF with his speed and ability to pinch run. The fact that ownership has somehow sold so many people that we need to make a larger profit instead of improving the roster is ridiculous. We clearly have the money to sign Damon if we actually wanted to and saying we can only spend 2MM more is a blatant lie. The best part about being a Yankee fan is knowing the ownership wants to win as much as you do and they would rather win than turn a profit. But now we have to buy the fact that we can’t spend a few extra million to fix the only weak spot on our entire roster with a player we know can handle NY and the post season. I don’t think it will matter much in the regular season but when we get to the playoffs, everyone is going to wish we had Damon at the plate in a big situation instead of watching Gardner take three fastballs down the middle.

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