Free Agent Stock Watch: Johnny Damon

It seems like just a few weeks ago that Johnny Damon was still a free agent, mulling offers from the Tigers, White Sox and others. He is already halfway through the one-year $8MM deal he signed as Spring Training began, so let's take stock of Damon's value.

He's still getting on base (.362 OBP, 40 walks) and stealing occasionally (seven steals in eight attempts), but his power has dropped off noticeably. Damon cranked 24 homers last year, including 17 at Yankee Stadium, a park that seems perfect for his swing and appears to have boosted his homer total. Five of Damon's 17 Yankee Stadium round-trippers were classified as 'just enough' home runs by HitTrackerOnline (that means they didn't clear the wall by much). Comerica Park is considered a pitchers' park, though all six of Damon's 2010 home runs have come at home.

Damon has played in left and center field this year, but has spent most of his time DHing. He turns 37 this winter, so teams are probably wary of relying on him for too much defense at this point. The market for DHs has not been good in recent years, but Damon remains an above-average hitter. 

The Elias rankings currently place Damon in Type A territory, but just barely. The Tigers will probably not offer arbitration after the season, since $8-9MM would be a lot to pay Damon next year. 

That said, teams other than the Indians and Blue Jays don't have DHs locked up long-term and could look to Damon as a way of getting production on a one-year deal. His former teammates, Manny RamirezDavid Ortiz and Hideki Matsui could be among the players competing for DH jobs after the season, but Damon should still draw one-year offers.

Let's not forget that Damon will likely be about three seasons away from the 3,000 hit plateau after this year. That milestone could make it harder for Damon to pass up multi-million dollar offers to play in 2011, even if it means taking a paycut.

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