Rays, Damon Discussing Deal

12:58pm:  For the right price, the Rays could add Damon and Manny Ramirez or Vladimir Guerrero, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Damon would take over left field and the other hitter would DH.

11:15am: The Rays are discussing a deal with Damon, but a source tells ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that the Yahoo report below is "very premature." However, a deal between the Rays and Damon "certainly could happen."

7:53am: The Rays are nearing a deal with Johnny Damon, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (on Twitter). There is still work to be done before the sides reach an agreement, however. Agent Scott Boras represents Damon.

The 37-year-old hit .271/.355/.401 with 69 walks and 36 doubles for the Tigers last year. He played 36 games in the outfield, but was primarily the team's DH. His role with the Rays would figure to be similar in 2011. Though he drew interest from at least one NL club (the Dodgers), Damon seems best suited for a job in the American League as he enters the 17th season of his career.

If Damon signs with the Rays, Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez would likely lose leverage. The Angels, meanwhile, would lose a leadoff option and could turn to free agent outfielder Scott Podsednik.


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99 Comments on "Rays, Damon Discussing Deal"


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The_Silver_Stacker
4 years 5 months ago

As long as he is the everyday DH, it will be a good signing for the Rays, he still has some pop left and still can get on base.

Guest
4 years 5 months ago

He still has pop left? Hit 24 a few years ago but that was as a lefty in the new Yankee Stadium. With 500+ AB’s I’d say he’s good for 15. Not sure that could be considered pop for a DH in the AL.

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MetsFanXXIII
4 years 5 months ago

As opposed to a DH in the NL? Lol, jk.

Guest
4 years 5 months ago

Touche. Went 3 words too far, but you get my point!

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The_Silver_Stacker
4 years 5 months ago

I consider extra base hits pop, and his doubles are still there (36) and for and older player 5 triples to boot, its not like hes going to get paid a superstar salary anyways.

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Jim77
4 years 5 months ago

He has no pop outside of Coors East. ow were his power numbers in Detroit? 7 HRs and a .435 SLG… Obviously it is a stadium where bats go to die but road? 1 HR and a .364 SLG. Add in the fact that he HAS to DH then this is an awful move by the Rays. Vlad and Manny can’t field and I’ll go out on a limb here and say that they’d far outproduce this slap hitter. His on base skills are still good but DH is not a position for a strickly OBP guy. The Rays would be better served using the DH on a rotational basis than signing Damon.

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buddaley
4 years 5 months ago

A few things about the Rays signing Damon (if they do).

1. There is an outside chance they still sign Manny and use Damon primarily as a left fielder while allowing Jennings more time at AAA. I don’t think it is probable, but it can’t be ruled out. His arm is less of a problem there, and he is still a pretty decent outfielder otherwise.

2. While his home runs were down, he hit 36 doubles, the same as the year before and more than in any season since 2000. He also had 5 triples. That suggests he still hits the ball hard and is not purely a punch and judy hitter.

3. Supporting that is the fact that his line drive rate was up in 2010 over 2009 when he hit the 24 home runs. His ground ball rate was also up while his fly ball rate was down. Those are good things generally for a non-power hitter. It is true that his home run % on fly balls was way down, but he remained a useful hitter at the top of a lineup.

As a matter of fact, while he cannot come close to matching Crawford’s defense or base running (although he is a good base runner), he will probably have as good or better an OBP than Crawford and could be a decent replacement as a #2 hitter.

4. While his 2010 was something of a down year, and at his age possibly a harbinger of continued decline, he had one of his best seasons in 2009, so there is no evidence of a trend at this point. It is likely he will not get better, but not unreasonable to think he could bounce back some. And just as his numbers may have been enhanced by Yankee Stadium, they may have been depressed in Detroit.

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Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months ago

lol at damon primarily as a left fielder.

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Slopeboy
4 years 5 months ago

You haven’t seen Damon play the outfield lately, have you?
The last two years he has lost the ability to track the ball. In ’09 it was just frightening to Yankees fans watching him play LF. Last year the Tigers used him primarily as a DH and not just because of his non-existant throwing arm.
Everything you’ve posted is pretty much on the money, but I can’t see the Rays putting him in LF

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buddaley
4 years 5 months ago

Yes, I have seen him play the outfield. I do not trust my own judgment or the significance of my anecdotal viewing to draw conclusions. From what I have read, the consensus among those who are more knowledgeable is that he is no longer a plus but remains adequate in LF.

While I know there is much disagreement about the value of defensive stats, they support those views. At fangraphs his UZR, UZR/150 and RngR are all slightly better than average for LF. At BB-Ref his number look slightly below. But none of them mark him as bad let alone terrible.

I remain suspicious of viewpoints that rely heavily on “having seen him play” as the evidence for their argument. In any case, it is possible the Rays (assuming they do sign him) will move him around,using him some in LF, some as a DH or at 1B or as a pinch hitter. The team is built on the concept of flexibility and depth,and Damon represents that approach very well.

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Slopeboy
4 years 5 months ago

I can understand your viewpoint on accepting other opinions on his fielding. I’ve been watching Baseball for 30 years and it doesn’t take an expert to recognize a bad fielder.Keep in mind that in the last two years Damon has played just over 169 games in the OF. Last year he played in just under 40 games. There is a reason for that. I appreciate the fact you brought out concerning the stats and as you alluded to, they don’t always tell the entire story.

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buddaley
4 years 5 months ago

There are possibly many reasons for him not playing the field much. One is that the Tigers had a better defender there in Raburn so it made sense to have Raburn in the field and Damon DH. That does not mean he is a bad outfielder, just that he is not better than Raburn in the Tigers’ estimation.

As for watching baseball for 30 years, I agree that experience and a keen eye may help someone reach a decision, but how many games are we talking about? 162 per year watching Damon? 50 games? 20 games? Of course a trained eye may be able to see certain skills either evident or lacking after just 1 play, but I remain skeptical of anyone’s ability to be confident in such evaluations, even a professional scout’s let alone a fan whose view is almost certainly influenced by confirmation bias.

In my own case, I have been watching baseball for over 50 years, and while I think I can sometimes spot a good or poor fielder, I remain rather modest about my appraisals and aware how limited my watching experience really is. My statement that both the numbers and quite a bit of professional opinion seems to be that he is an adequate left fielder is not meant to be authoritative. It was really just a response to a poster who said he was a disaster in the field, an extreme view that I think has very limited evidence to support it.

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Jim77
4 years 5 months ago

All of your arguments have led me to believe one of two things…buddaley is actually either Boras or Heyman. The guy can’t field well anymore and even then he can’t on a regular basis. Add in the Trop’s surface and he will probably be able to LESS than 40 games. With that out of the way, the guy slugged .400 last year. A drop of nearly 90 points. That is what happens when he is removed from the Bronx. His bat doesn’t justify DH or even LF for that matter. His batting skills are valuable for a capable fielding up the middle defender. Waste of money and a roster spot.

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buddaley
4 years 5 months ago

I am neither Heyman nor Boras, and apparently having made up your mind you are unwilling to consider reasonable arguments to the contrary about Damon. Aside from your assurance that you know he can’t field, I see no evidence that you are right while I have seen ample data suggesting he is adequate in LF. And while I agree that Yankee Stadium inflated his numbers, it is just as likely that Comerica deflated them and his real talent is somewhere in the middle.

Additionally, he still gets on base a good % of the time which is a significant plus. He hit 36 doubles with an improved line drive rate which suggests he still hits the ball hard. A one year drop in performance is certainly worrisome in a 37 year old, but as it is just one year it is not yet a trend, and he has been reasonably healthy most of his career, in good shape and does not have a heavy body to suggest he will suddenly fall off a cliff. There is certainly a reasonable hope that he bounces back some even if not to his peak.

But my real objection to your post is the dogmatic certainty with which you present your points (despite the lack of a shred of information to support them). I am not claiming he will be an effective player for the Rays should they sign him. Of course he is a risk. I am simply pointing out that figuring risk vs hoped for production, it is not unreasonable to think he may contribute as a top of the order hitter who can fill multiple roles under Maddon’s system and so, at an affordable price, a good signing.

I do concede that the Tropicana turf can be a problem as it was for Crawford. If signed, that is something the Rays will have to account for, but it is not by itself a reason to forgo signing him.

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cubfan4life
4 years 5 months ago

Bringing in Damon (and now Manny as well) TB has added a capable LF albeit not a great defensive one. Thankfully they have Upton in CF who can cover some of the lack of range that Damon has. However i dont necessarily agree with you about leaving Jennings at AAA. Yes the move gives them options with him if he absolutely stinks it up during the spring but if he has a good spring, and if i were Joe Maddon, I would have no problem playing him full time in RF and moving Zobrist to 1B the majority of the time. With Brignac and Rodriguez up the middle. You can still move guys around for days off by playing Dan Johnson at 1B and moving Zobrist around and you still have Joyce on the bench also but i think that their offense would be better by having Jennings and Zobrist in the lineup instead of Zobrist and Johnson.

I could see Damon putting up about a .280-.290 avg with 30+ doubles and around 15 HRs if he plays everyday. He isnt the SB threat that Crawford was but he gets on base (career .355 OBP) and his attitude fits that clubhouse very well. He can provide leadership for a team that is very young and hopefully keep Manny closer to being in line than he has been.

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buddaley
4 years 5 months ago

I am only speculating about Jennings. My guess is that between his injury history and somewhat disappointing 2010 performance, the Rays may want him to develop further in Durham. I can’t see them keeping him on the roster if he is not playing full time. But they may keep him and make him the regular left fielder with Damon playing primarily at 1B and perhaps occasionally giving Manny a rest as DH.

I disagree with you on three points. First, I don’t think the Rays evaluate players based on spring training performance. It is too sketchy and the circumstances too suspect for anyone to make real judgments. They may be influenced by it, although I think by what they see in a player’s skills, not by the actual stats.

Second, I expect the Rays want Joyce to be a regular, and so do I. I think, because he did not make a big splash the first time around, that many are underestimating his talent. There is plenty to see in his performance to suggest that he can be a significant contributor both with good power and excellent plate discipline.

Third, I think the Rays consider it a waste of his defensive talents to play Zobrist at 1B. There is evidence that he is their best defensive outfielder and second baseman, so while he apparently plays a good 1B, playing him there would be inefficient. I am confident that Maddon will get him plenty of ABs, but likely not so much at 1B. If anyone is affected by the signings, it is probably Dan Johnson.

Nonetheless, while I disagree with some of the specifics of your post, I think your overall view of the signings is correct. There are risks, of course, and nobody can pretend that it entirely makes up for the loss of Crawford (although Damon may get on base more, while if Jennings is the left fielder that may maintain the defensive excellence of the OF) the potential upside more than makes the risks worthwhile.

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cubfan4life
4 years 5 months ago

Ill respond to you in the order that you made your points.

1st. “Damon playing primarily at 1B”. I know its late but wow. That is one of the dumbest statements i have ever seen. I hope youre not serious. Damon is not a first basemen. He has played almost 17,000 innings over his 16 year career. Out of almost 17000 innings played he has logged exactly 11.1 innings at 1B. Moving on.

2nd. I didnt say anything about Jennings stats over the spring. If a guy stinks it up and looks overmatched his stats will say so. However if a guy is ready you can tell regardless of the stats in spring training. I imagine that Jennings will be on the 25 man roster come march 31st but the Damon signing allows them to be careful with him and if he isnt ready then he can start the year at Durham.

3rd. Joyce could be a regular. But with the current makeup of the roster his value is going to come off the bench and getting a start or 2 a week. Especially if Jennings starts the year at the ML level. There are only 3 OF spots. Upton occupies CF. That leaves Damon, Jennings, Joyce, and Zobrist for the other 2. If Jennings is up he will be a starter otherwise there is no reason to keep him at the ML level. So that leaves 3 guys for 1 spot. Damon will be the starter in LF. Thats not to say that Joyce isnt valuable there just isnt a spot for him to play everyday with the current group of OFers on the roster. Joyce will still get starts when Damon needs a day off or if Jennings is in a slump and needs a day or two off but that is where is value lies for this year. Im not underestimating him or anything else. I like the kid too. Im just saying that they arent going to pay Damon over 5M to be a bench guy and they arent going to waste service time on Jennings being a part time platoon guy.

4th. Zobrist is a very good defender at any position. For all the reasons i just mentioned about Joyce i dont see him getting much time in the OF. Dan Johnson is best suited as a bench player. They have Sean Rodriguez who can step in at 2B if the move Zobrist to 1B. I dont necessarily like the idea of Zobrist at 1st full time but i would rather have Zobrist and Rodriguez in the lineup over Zobrist and Johnson. I think that they may still bring in a guy on a low base ML deal or a minor league deal to compete for the 1B job and allow Zobrist to play full time at 2B with Brignac and Rodriguez splitting time at SS. Perhaps Jorge Cantu or maybe take a flier on a guy like Russell Branyan or Nick Johnson. Or here is an outside the box idea for ya. How about seeing if Joyce can handle 1B during the spring. That would solve 2 problems. The hole that they currently have as well as finding a way to get his bat into the lineup.

The signings that they have made dont make up for what they lost and they still have a couple holes (1B and a closer) but they should still be competitive and considering the lack of depth in the NY rotation who knows, maybe they still find themselves in the race late in September.

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buddaley
4 years 5 months ago

I don’t think the point about Damon at 1B is dumb; you will find it mentioned in other places as well. He is not an experienced first baseman, but he has been tried there and apparently before signing Teixeira the Yankees were working him out there as well. It is very common for aging players to be given trials there. Sometimes they flop but often they do just fine. It is not something I anticipate will happen, but I think it is among the legitimate options Maddon has.

Historically, the Rays have not used spring training performance for many decisions.  However, again I am not saying Jennings will definitely be in Durham, only that such possibility is now more likely than it was before these signings. The Rays do not move players up quickly, like to save service time by keeping them in the minors a bit longer and in this case have good reason to want to see what Jennings can do when healthy as his AAA performance last year was promising but mediocre. Actually, it looks as if we agree on this point with perhaps just a bit of stress in different places.

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cubfan4life
4 years 5 months ago

I would love to know what other places youre referring to. So far the only person i have heard mention it is you. I wouldnt call it a legitimate option though. Maybe the 5th or 6th best option behind (in no particular order) Zobrist, Johnson, FA, Giving Joyce a shot at 1b, then you might get to Damon. Is it common for guys to get tried out at 1st? yes. Is it something that should be considered? no. You cant just throw any old guy over at 1st and have it work. 1st base defense affects everyone else on the infield and with a young guy at SS, and possibly 2B, having a sure handed guy at 1st would help them out.

Once again im not saying that his performance over the course of the spring would be the only criteria for a decision on Jennings. Its only one of a handful of things that have to be taken into consideration. Im not quite sure how you keep thinking that im saying that is the only thing that they would take into consideration. So far all I have said about Jennings is that the Damon signing would make it easier if he is visably struggling to have him start the year at AAA and that if he does make the ML roster out of ST then he wont be a part time player.

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bas_in_denmark
4 years 5 months ago

I don’t like the concept of rotating at DH. It sounds like a good idea but it is really not a very efficient use of at-bats. Rotation at DH is pretty much what the Rays did last year and what kind of production did it give them? .238/.322/.391. Meanwhile what did Damon do? .271/.355/.401. Unless you expect Damon to fall of a cliff this year, this is is an upgradre. As they are likely just paying him a couple of million, it’s not a very expensive one either. The Rays lost in the vicinity of 15 WAR in the offseason so they have to compensate wherever they can. This is a good move.

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The_Silver_Stacker
4 years 5 months ago

Comerica Park is where hitters aside from the elite (Cabera for example) go to die

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YanksFanSince78
4 years 5 months ago

Using the DH as a rotational spot isn’t going to improve the overall offsense for the Rays. It’s not going to add anything to the lineup. It will give ppl rest and that’s not as much of a need for a younger team like the Rays. As it is now, they really don’t have as potent of a lineup as in 2010. They need a bat they can put in for 550 AB. Whether Damon is the right choice is aruguable but they do need someone.

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Redsoxn8tion
4 years 5 months ago

Only Baltimore

Guest
4 years 5 months ago

Red Sox fans follow baseball in the offseason?

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Ben_Cherington
4 years 5 months ago

Baseball has an offseason?

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grownice
4 years 5 months ago

What’s Baseball?

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ellisburks
4 years 5 months ago

Who are you and what are you doing in my livingroom?

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safari_punch
4 years 5 months ago

Better off with Vlad.

Damon is nothing but a spare part at this point.

Would have been interesting if TB signed Manny AND Vlad and tried to work out some sort of time share in the outfield and DH. I don’t think they would have cost all that much.

I imagine TB is going to be dumping more money into their picks this year and next with the off-season savings?

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cubfan4life
4 years 5 months ago

They would have been better off with either Thome or Vlad but Thome wanted to go back to Minnesota and Vlad might have priced himself out of TB. Ill be semi interested to see if Manny even gets a job. However your statement of them signing both Manny and Vlad is ridiculous. Did you see Vlad in the WS? Or ever see Manny play “defense”? TB needs good defenders to help their staff not guys that need a golf cart ride out to the OF.

Side note. They will have to spend on picks i believe that they have somewhere around 10 in the first 2 rounds if not 10 in just the 1st and supplementary round.m

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safari_punch
4 years 5 months ago

I did see Vlad in the WS, but he would be the one that would be playing DH mostly – if not exclusively – not Manny. As for TB outfield defense, it’s not like Maddon doesn’t manage and bring in guys to play in the late innings or take advantage of hitters tendencies (fly ball/ground ball) that he couldn’t make it work. With Joyce (righty platoon), Desmond (rookie), Upton (only regular) and Zorbrist (who could flip flop between RF and 2b), what’s not to like about bringing in Manny; at the right price of course.

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cubfan4life
4 years 5 months ago

Being realistic and not living in video game fantasyland there are 3 reasons why that wouldnt work. 1 Manny is a huge headache and you dont need that around a young team. 2 Maddon and TB value flexibility defensively. Manny and Vlad would both need to be full time DHs to even be considered. 3 TB doesnt have the money to pull that off.

Bringing in Damon is good now if they add a guy like Russell Branyan to play 1B that would make way more sense than Manny and Vlad

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flickadave
4 years 5 months ago

While I agree that Manny and Vlad won’t be winning a gold glove this year, I don’t think that I would say that “8 Hop” Damon and his noodle arm is any better.

Guest
4 years 5 months ago

All the things you said are mostly correct, but i think there is a slim chance they could afford Manny and Damon. That might put people in the seats as well. I dont want Manny, but i don’t think its out of the question. Vlad is all but dead at this point.

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Victor Kipp
4 years 5 months ago

If Damon ever plays the OF they will have the weakest arm in MLB playing the field.

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Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months ago

“Vlad might have priced himself out of TB.”

Guess when the Rays front office said they would be re investing the money saved on Garza they meant that they would not be reinvesting the money saved on Garza.

Guest
4 years 5 months ago

How do you know it’s not being used on Damon right now? 5-6 million more is all they had from the Garza deal.

Even if there is more, just because its not on the free agency doesn’t mean it won’t be reinvested in the draft or international free agents.

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ugen64
4 years 5 months ago

they do have to leave a significant amount of money aside for their 5,000 first round draft picks…

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cubfan4life
4 years 5 months ago

Well there are more ways to reinvest money other than just FA signings. The draft for example. Where they have 10 picks before the 2nd round. They might need to have some money for those guys.

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caby24
4 years 5 months ago

The Tiger’s made the right decision in letting him go, and it is a great fit for the rays, to replace Pena’s left left bat. It doesn’t however replace the power the Carlos brought to the plate, the advantage is the speed, experience, average,OPS, and slight fielding ability.

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cookmeister
4 years 5 months ago

slight fielding ability? Damon is awful, and didn’t Pena win a GG?

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Rick Garcia
4 years 5 months ago

there was once a time not too long ago when a person wouldnt dream that Manny and Vlad would be on the market this long

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flickadave
4 years 5 months ago

I’m starting to wonder if Vlad is going to be this years Jermaine Dye.