Will Johnny Damon Be Claimed?

Tigers left fielder and designated hitter Johnny Damon was placed on waivers on Thursday, so the window to make a claim closes Monday.  Damon explained the situation to MLB.com's Jason Beck on Friday:

"I know they would probably like to keep me, but if this is a way they can possibly save a little bit of money this year and get a prospect, then that's something they have to do."

Damon's open attitude implies that he might not block a trade, even though he hopes to re-sign with the Tigers.  Of his $8MM salary, about $1.8MM remains.  Damon, 36, predictably saw his power slip with the switch from Yankee Stadium to Comerica Park.  He's hitting .270/.355/.409 on the season and has logged only 268 innings in the outfield.

Damon hasn't been great, but we've seen varying returns in August moves.  Jim Edmonds and Derrek Lee brought useful players back, while Cody Ross and Jose Guillen did not.  Damon profiles as a Type B free agent, but I can't envision the Tigers offering arbitration.  The Tigers could dump Damon's contract on a claiming club, or eat some money and try to get a useful player back.

Six American League contenders remain: the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Twins, White Sox, and Rangers.  Lance Berkman's ankle injury frees up the Yankees' DH spot; would they bring Damon back given the offseason drama?  The Rays and Red Sox could block the Yanks, and both clubs could use him.  Damon back in the AL East would be an intriguing storyline.  The Rangers, with Nelson Cruz out, could consider Damon.  The White Sox might be content to use Mark Kotsay and Mark Teahen at DH, while the Twins don't look like a fit.

In the National League I think we can safely cross off the Giants as a Damon possibility, leaving the Braves, Phillies, Reds, Cardinals, and Padres as remaining contenders.  Would the Braves want Damon in the left field picture?  The Reds probably wouldn't add Damon after getting Edmonds.  The Cardinals sent Ryan Ludwick to the Padres, though the Friars could still find room after losing Tony Gwynn.  The Phillies don't seem to have a need for Damon.

The American League certainly seems a better fit for Damon.  Hopefully we'll find out today whether any teams risked claims.


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