What, exactly, does Johnny Damon think he’ll get?

Report: Yanks waiting for Damon's price to come down
Extracting value from Kei Igawa

Fans who want to see Johnny Damon back in pinstripes got a bit of good news last night. In a radio interview, new Padre Jerry Hairston Jr. said that the Yankees didn’t make him an offer because they’re “waiting on Damon’s price to come down.” Brian Cashman quickly refuted the report, but that’s to be expected. After hearing the interview a number of reporters surely placed phone calls, and Cashman is under no obligation to divulge the team’s strategies. While Cashman went into deny mode, I don’t think Hairston’s comment was inaccurate.

As we’ve heard ever since the Javy Vazquez trade, the Yankees plan to wait out the market and find the best value in another outfielder. As one Yankee official said in late December, “We’ll sign an outfielder between now and spring training.” The market for the Yankees’ target players hasn’t moved much since then, hence the lull in activity. Had teams started to make serious plays for guys like Reed Johnson and Xavier Nady, perhaps the Yankees would have made a move by now. But as the market lies dormant, so should the Yankees.

The advantage of waiting in this situation is that they can continue to monitor their presumed top target, Johnny Damon. He’s the best player left on the market, and surely the Yankees would rather bring him back than sign one of the other remaining outfielders. But, as Hairston’s quote suggests, Damon is still asking too much. My question to that: what, exactly, does Johnny think he can get in this market? And, furthermore, what team will pay it?

The teams interested in Damon’s services have dwindled in the past month. The Giants signed Mark DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, and Bengie Molina, and are likely tapped out. The Braves might be interested, but they might not, depending on who you ask. The Tigers have denied interest, and with good cause. They already have DHs at their corner outfield spots — Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen — and so with Damon would have three corner outfielders who play poor defense, surrounding a rookie center fielder. The Mariners have $10 million, but also have two set-in-stone outfielders, plus Milton Bradley and Ken Griffey, Jr.

As Dave Pinto noted yesterday, “a team with a hole in leftfield or designated hitter could do a lot worse than offering Damon $7 to 9 million for a year of his services.” True, they could do worse than Damon as a player, but at that price he’s not nearly as appealing. With so few teams actively interested in his services, $7 to $9 million, in a pure market environment, appears too steep. But, since Damon doesn’t want to take a pay cut, he’ll continue to wait. It might be a while before he gets anything close to what he thinks he’s worth.

So where does that leave Damon? Tyler Kepner wrote an excellent article comparing Damon to two players who found themselves in similar situations: Kenny Lofton and Kenny Rogers. Funny, too, because they’re both former, reviled Yankees. Lofton abruptly retired after the 2007 season when he didn’t receive an offer he deemed worthy. Rogers turned down a two-year, $10 million offer from the Rangers, eventually signing on for $2 million with the Twins after another former Yankee, Eric Milton, got hurt.

Reports circulated yesterday that Damon was contemplating retirement, but that’s bull. In fact, there was no direct quote attributed to it, never mind the dubious source, a “friend” of Damon. Plus, as Kepner notes, Damon himself said that he wants to play. So that leaves him with Rogers’s situation, waiting until something pops up in spring training. That might cause a team to overpay a bit, but I doubt it would land him a multiyear contract. That ship, it appears, sailed when he turned down the Yankees’ two-year, $14 million offer.

As the last big-name free agent left on the market, Damon will garner much attention in the weeks between now and spring training. We’re bound to hear conflicting reports, and much of that will be pure noise. What we do know, however, is that the Yankees feel no urgency to act, and that puts them in a position to bring back Damon on their terms. Whether they will remains to be seen. But I do think that the more time passes, the better chance Damon re-signs with the Yanks.

Credit: AP Photo/Peter Morgan

Report: Yanks waiting for Damon's price to come down
Extracting value from Kei Igawa
  • Drew

    On a one year deal JD and Scotty B also have to consider where he’ll play 81 games. Seattle? Yikes, his power numbers would drop immensely, thus, decreasing his value as a shotty defensive corner outfielder/DH. Same situation in Detroit.

    He knows it, Scotty knows it, we know it, YSIII is the best place for him. Especially on a one year deal with hopes of a better market next year.

  • BigBlueAL

    With the hot-looking wife he has I woudnt mind spending more time at home.

    • Drew

      Eh, all of them get annoying after a while..

      • BigBlueAL

        Good point. The off-season is more than enough time to spend at home “enjoying” time with his wife.

      • pokey skokey

        bitter much?

        • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

          The Melky divorce left him a broken man.

      • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

        Reminds me of the time I briefly dated a deaf girl. She was nice, legitimately good looking, and fun. But listening to her talk was SUPER ANNOYING, so I just completely tuned her out, occasionally nodding or parroting “yep.” She dumped me, presumably tired of my shit. It’s all good though; mom made some good meat loaf and let me come upstairs the next day to ease the grieving process.

        • Bob Stone


      • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

        If it wasn’t for all the cheating, pro athlete marriages would make for the ideal, longer-lasting relationship setup. Everyone needs time away from their spouse/significant other and how sweet it is to have that enforced by their career.

  • Esteban

    Wow, what a bag full of fail from Boras and Damon. The Yankees were ready to give him about 2/20 before they signed Nick Johnson, and now he’ll be lucky to get more than 1/5 or 6. As others have pointed out, the lower his price gets, the more suitors he’ll have. I think he probably prefers to play for the Yankees, so I don’t think he’ll let his pride get in the way of returning if he had similar deals from the Yankees and other teams.

    • Stryker

      I don’t think he’ll let his pride get in the way of returning

      if this was the case, he would be our 2010 left fielder right now.

      • Drew

        Eh, not necessarily. The market really dropped out from under him. He had no way of knowing that.

        Now that his market is nearly non existent, he may as well hang out for a few more weeks and hope someone pulls a Boone and a new hole opens up.

      • Esteban

        What I meant, was that considering that we don’t know what, if anything the Yankees or other teams have offered Johnny Damon recently, if it came down to the Yankees and another team with identical offers (say 1/5), I don’t see why he would choose an inferior team. He’s (or Boras) the one that priced himself out of a better offer.

    • Kiko Jones

      I was under the impression Damon was willing to go 2/20 but the Yankees only offered 2/13-14. If so, at the time, it was unacceptable for Johnny take a 50% pay cut as opposed to a 30% cut. Now, he might have to.

  • Peter

    But I do think that the more time passes, the better chance Damon re-signs with the Yanks.

    i agree

  • RKelly39

    If we get Damon back who hits 2nd? Damon? If so, where does Nick Johnson hit?

    • Drew

      Damon hits 2. NJ hits somewhere between 6 and 9.
      I’ve tried coming up with a lineup many times and find it difficult to put anyone in the 9 slot.

    • Peter

      i wouldn’t worry about it…line-ups always seem to find a way of working themselves out.

      plus…we all know Nick Johnson will hit the DL by May (only kidding…well, kinda.)

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      I’d still bat Johnson second and have Damon hit behind A-Rod:


    • Bo

      Who do u think hits second if JD is back???

      Like him hitting 2nd didnt work out well last yr or something?

      • Chris

        And hitting Ruth third in 1927 worked out well too. Should we sign him and bat him third?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          I think you mean to say:

          Should we sign him and bat him third?????????


          • king of fruitless hypotheticals

            no. that’s stupid. his bat speed is way down by now i’m sure. yeah, maybe we could bat him 5th to help protect arod, but with his knees, its another matsui situation.

            why not just get Bonds, bat him AHEAD Arod…yeah, he’ll get a few good rips into right field, and they’ll never be able to walk him, cause BAM there’s Arod.

  • pete luciano

    Johnson would hit 6th and Granderson 9th creating a double leadoff 9 hole one hole lineup. With Granderson, Jeter, and Damon at 9 1 2 the order is circular. They’d score 1000 runs. It’d be Jeter Damon Tex Arod Posada Johnson Cano Swisher and Granderson. That puts Granderson between 2 right handed batters and takes less of a sting out of a late inning lefty because Granderson can’t hit leftys. Would also need a righty bench player to pinch hit late in games for Granderson vs leftys. Thames, Tatis, or dare I say Sheffield.

    • Drew

      C-Grand’s power and lower OBP may make him a little more valuable higher than 9th.

      • Salty Buggah

        Yea, that and the fact he’s speedy, which will help out Captain Double Play.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      With Granderson, Jeter, and Damon at 9 1 2 the order is circular.

      No matter who hits where, no matter how it’s ordered, the lineup is circular.

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals

        so sayeth Mo.

  • pete luciano

    Granderson can’t hit leftys and that’s the only landing spot between 2 rightys. Plus his speed makes the 9 1 2 combo dynamite. Can’t bat him behind Arod, they walk him and bring in a lefty for Granderson. Can’t bat him 6th if Cano is 7th, we’d be suspect late in games to leftys even though Cano hits leftys well he doesn’t hit well late in games or with RISP. 9th is the spot, Granderson will have to swallow his pride, he has the lowest ops in the entire lineup and by a lot, look it up.

    • Salty Buggah

      Well, he should improve against LHP by moving to YSIII and with the K-Long factor so it should be a smaller issue.

    • Drew

      Well, if you’re assuming that 2010 Cano and Grandy will be identical to their 2009 versions then what you’re saying is accurate.
      I for one think Cano will improve with RISP and Grandy will improve overall compared to last year. After all, CG did manage to slug 516 away from Comerica last year(vs. 388 in Comerica), identical to his career slugging % outside of Comerica.

      • Salty Buggah


        A correction with RISP (at the very least a minor one if he has a psychological issues with RISP) is imminent for Cano, who is a high contact and average batter.

  • http://www.lennysyankees.com lenNY’s Yankees

    Agree with conclusion. Eventually, he’s going to have no other choice but to go by the Yankees’ terms. He wants 3,000 hits. And he should get it if he continues to play.

  • trent

    i don’t think he has it in him to get 3000

    • Bob Stone

      Damon needs 575 hits to reach 3000. At 150 hits per year, he’ll need 3.83 years to hit the milestone.

      Damon is 36 now so he’d be 40 when he reached 3000 (at 150 hits/year which is a stretch). He’s been durable but I’d agree that it is doubtful he can do it.

    • Bo

      Because he was so awful last yr??

      if he wants it, he’ll get it. And every player wants 3000

      • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

        it continues to amaze me how little your comments bring to the table most of the time

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          I think you mean to say:

          it continues to amaze me how little your comments bring to the table most of the time!!!!!!!!!

  • W.W.J.M.D.

    I don’t see any other team being a fit. If we can resign him for anything less than 7mil for 1 year, i say we do it. But i think everyone knows it’s less of will Cash pull the trigger at that price and more of will damon accept that contract/boras realize he screwed up this offseason with damon.

  • YankFanDave

    As far as the questions, “what, exactly, does Johnny think he can get in this market? And, furthermore, what team will pay it?”

    He wants to avoid a pay cut, he seeks $10 million per and he’ll have to accept quite a bit less ($5 – 7 million tops.) No one will pay him at his last rate or at $10 million and, in all likelihood, the Yankees will pony up at $5 million.

    What about the reports that Cashman was hesitant to bring Damon back with a big pay cut because the assumption was Damon would be disgruntled? You do have to wonder what his frame of mind would be in the locker room under those conditions. Some have speculated that pride alone would have him take a low ball offer from another team.

    I don’t buy that and do believe that the longer the waiting game goes on the greater the chance he returns to NY.

    I just put that out there because it got some chatter on this blog and others not so long ago.

    BTW – Hariston was just speculating like the rest of us, no way I believe someone in the Yankee organization told him or his agent the Yanks are waiting on Damon.

  • Will

    If the Yankees could get Damon for $7mn, it would be foolish of them not to do it. Waiting for his price to drop runs the risk of missing out on signing an undervalued player. Having said that, if the team does have a budget that is in place for specific financial reasons, then I can understand why the Yankees still refuse to bite. If that’s the case, perhaps the two parties can creative and come up with a second year player option that Damon will surely decline, which would allow the Yankees to give him a decent amount of guaranteed money, but extend the luxury cap hit over two years. Maybe something like a $4mn 2010 salary with a $3mn buyout or $5mn player option in 2011. This makes the 2010 luxury cap hit $4.5mn, while guaranteeing Damon $7mn. The only downside is the $2.5mn hit to the 2011 payroll if he takes the buyout, which he will, considering the fact that it is only $2mn less than the option.

  • Sal

    Sign Damon and make him a DH/back up left fielder. Trade Nick Johnson for someone who can play left field.

    • RichYF

      Nick Johnson isn’t getting traded before he puts on a uniform. Sorry.

      • Chris

        He can’t be traded until (I believe) May 15 even if they wanted to trade him.

        • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

          is that what it is? i thought june but i might be gettig it all confused with type a free agents and picks and stuff. there’s so much knowledge necessary lol

    • Doug


    • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

      he can’t be traded before what is it, june without his consent. and why the hell would he consent to that?

      bo/sal/lanny/grant fail

  • Bob Turley (PMT) Rawlings

    I like Damon and I hope he returns to the team; however I am 62 years old and I have a better arm then Johnny. Yes, he can hit and run better then me (a whole lot better). No team (especially in the NL) is going to make him the everyday outfielder (with that arm). Boras has overplayed his hand big time. The Yankees may be the only team that can afford to pay Johnny and use him part time…even at about 5 Mill. for one year. Hope he returns as he can be a real asset as DH, part-time OF, and pinch runner.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      No team (especially in the NL) is going to make him the everyday outfielder (with that arm).

      Hundreds of outfielders with even worse arms than Johnny have been everyday starting outfielders in MLB history. There’s a reason that arm is the least important OF tool. If you have a good bat and at least decent range, you can be a highly productive outfielder even with a Chad Pennington noodle arm.

    • A.D.

      especially in the NL

      Why would the NL care even more about his noodle arm?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Because they can’t hide him at DH, I’d imagine.

  • Jammy Jammers

    Didn’t JD say in the past that distractions kept him from coming to spring training in shape?

    After 2004 it was the layover from winning a World Series that kept him from getting in shape.

    After 2005 it was the uncertaintly of not knowing what team he’d be on and contract negotiations, etc…

    After 2006, wasn’t he thinking of retiring, so he didn’t stay in shape? or was that 2007? or 2008? or all of the above?

  • Bo

    Do u think they really want to give LF to a guy who lost his job after 2 weeks to Melky Cabrera last yr???

    Think about it. they saw enough in 2 weeks out of Gardner to demote him to where he should be. 4th OF. Backup.

    • pete

      nobody will ever see enough out of somebody in 2 weeks to make a decision like that, if the player has rightfully made it to the major leagues. Gardner wasn’t “awarded” the CF job last year. Everyone in their right mind knew that Girardi was going to play the hot hand there and try to maximize production. When the season opened, it looked like Gardner would play better than Cabrera, but Cabrera started playing very well so he presumed the role of “#1 CFer”, but it’s not as though Gardner was “demoted” to a permanent bench spot. Right now cabrera is not on the team, so they will have to live with gardner if/when he struggles. The rest of the lineup + Gardy’s defense should make that hardly an issue.

  • steve s

    Boras/Damon should be trying to get the Mets to show some interest (which ironically may be the best way to get the Yanks back in the race). If the Mets would actually sign Damon I think there would be more positive than negatives for them when you weigh Damon’s clubhouse value, winning pedigree, PR value/Yankee tweak and bat against the negative fielding aspect of having to play him in center until Beltran comes back and then finding the at bats for him once Beltran does come back (Bay looks like a guy that will end up playing first base eventually anyway because of his knees).

    • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

      in that spacious park damon is a nonentity. I would rather have pagan in cf if i am the met’s until beltran gets back.

  • Zack

    It’s really amazing that he has absolutely no market.

    But here’s a question: If Yankees are serious about a hard cap, would you rather sign Damon for 5-7m and have no ability to add any pieces at the deadline, or would you rather sign a platoon player for Gardner and have money left over for an mid-season acquistion (if necessary)?

    • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

      definitely mid season acquisition. as we have seen almost every year cashman goes out and get’s bench help or a reliever. the team looks nothingin sept like it does in april/may. by hamstringing yourself monetarily you basically say eff it, our team will be the same then as now and i feel that would be a terrible mistake.

      If there was a har dbudget last year and they signed cameron to play cf to reach it fully then what happens without hinske and/or hairston jr? starters play more, wear down more, who’s to say they dont get injured/drop in production/etc

      • Zack

        yeah im up in the air on this one. Obviously JD is an asset, but locking in your 25 man roster (+bullpen call ups) before ST even starts is not a good plan.

        • YankFanDave

          “It’s really amazing that he has absolutely no market:
          I agree, you know these stats: .282 avg, 24 hr, 82 rbi, 71 bb, .365 obp, .489 slg, 126 ops+, 12/0 sb/cs. Last yr career ranking for him: best season ops+, most hr, 2nd most rbi, 2nd most bb, 2 yrs prior good stat def. in LF.

          Having said that, if they have a set budget then you keep the flexibility to obtain other parts (pains me to say so.)

          The game really has changed with the premier players as INF and the acceptance of the typical OF as marginal. Curse you Cal Ripkin for starting the trend of big bodied athletic types in the IF.

  • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

    what the yankees needd to do is start turning up the heat by signing as bunch of guys to ST invites to compete for a possible LF/4th/5th of spot.

    like Mike suggested on mlbtr last night

  • Dan

    Johnny your career is heading south very fast. The defense and speed are gone and only the so called power, (Yankee Stadium only) is left. My suggestion is instead of continuing south, head east. Your only opportunity for a multi-year contract is in japan. You would be a fan favorite especially if you regrew the beard and hair and any multi-year contract would satisfy your overwhelming ego.

  • A.D.

    The Mariners have $10 million, but also have two set-in-stone outfielders, plus Milton Bradley and Ken Griffey, Jr.

    Personally when I saw this the Mariners jump out as best spot, they could probably use some more offense, and sure they have Griffey, but they’re paying him less than 3M, and the past few years really haven’t made any case for Griffey to be handed a starting DH spot (or really any spot). Mariners have money and the need, now they aren’t going to jump up and given Damon a 10M deal, but he’d be a nice piece to a pretty good offseason for them, and provide a solid bat in case Bradley continues to suck outside of Arlington & Griffey continues to be a shadow of his formal self.

    • Zack

      Is Damon really attractive as a DH anywhere besides YS?

      • A.D.

        When the middle of your lineup is Felipe Lopez, Milton Bradley, and Franklin Gutierrez and Ken Griffey Jr and his 735 OPS are your DH, then yes.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Damon, wRC+, 2006-2009:
        121, 107, 130, 132

        Yes, he’s attractive as a DH anywhere besides YS. There’s plenty of AL teams who don’t currently have DH’s they can reasonably expect to put up a wRC+ north of 120.

  • scoopemup

    Baltimore.Damon is going to the Orioles.Look for a subsequent trade to get Alex Rios.It will happen quickly,once Damon signs with the O’s.

    • pete

      who is getting rios now? i’m very confused. there’s literally no evidence that JD is going to baltimore, also. Not that it wouldn’t be a solid fit, but Baltimore can’t reasonably expect to compete for the playoffs until 2012 or so. They’re better off not signing aging players with questionable all-around skills, regardless of how cheap. I personally think the Rays are a better fit, since he and Burrell could make a good season-long competition/platoon at DH.

    • A.D.

      Given the O’s already have Reimold, Jones, Markakis & Scott, it seems unlikely they would want to add Damon.

  • KevinP

    I think the ship has sailed on JD and if he comes back for much less money (which is evident at this point) I see it affecting his attitude and performance.

    He played well last year, so it’s hard for a player to take a pay cut when they don’t feel their performance warranted it.

    I like the fact that we became more athletic and younger. Pass on JD and see what happens as the year progresses.

  • http://theyankeemanager.blogspot.com/ Managing the Yankees

    As to your article question as to what exactly will Johnny Damon get, I think Damon will sign with the Yankees for $ 3-4 million.

    It’s over the budget for the Yankees but they will make a room if Damon falls to that salary range.

    The Yankees will still benefit from Damon’s bat and it’s pretty obvious that the club still wants the old guy.

  • pete luciano

    Damon in the $5 mil range is a steal. Sign him. Could you really let this opportunity go while watching Gardner struggle as a regular. Damon has never been a good arm and everyone wants to talk about his defense, but his offensive numbers last yr were great and should continue with his love of Yankee Stadium. I also don’t think he’s given enough credit to how much he helped Jeter being in the 2 hole. Jeter got more bats, hit into less double plays, and had confidence Damon could pull the ball into the hole, take pitches, and actually had much more power than Jeter. It worked beautifully. Why mess with success and put a slow lumbering Johnson in the 2 hole. Johnson could bat sixth and the 9 1 2 of Granderson, Jeter, and Damon would be awesome. Just sign Johnny.

  • ted ford

    $4m to maybe $5m is the maximum. I’m not even sure the Yankees will go as far as that. Damon’s a fit for the Yankees, but no other club is willing to go above $2m plus incentives to $4m.

    This is an odd poker game in which everyone knows everyone else’s cards. Part of this is to teach a lesson to Boras and everyone else about today’s market. Attendance is off, TV is off and a pretty good ballplayer is in the twilight of his career. Damon was overpaid for the past four years. He should thanks his lucky stars he ever got that contract

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