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Johnny Damon Rumors
Congratulations to White Sox starter Philip Humber, who threw MLB's 21st perfect game this afternoon against the Mariners in Seattle. Humber took the path less traveled to immortality, as MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. … On with a few items of note out of MLB's Central divisions:
- The Indians will likely call up outfielder/DH Johnny Damon by May 1, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, as Damon's recently signed contract stipulates that he be brought up by then or released. Damon is currently getting at-bats in the minor leagues after signing with Cleveland earlier this week.
- The Cubs' decision to trade Marlon Byrd doesn't necessarily signal an organizational decision to immediately call up young players such as Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. Those players will be called up when the team thinks they're ready to play in the Majors — irrespective of service-time considerations — Levine adds.
- Cubs scout Kyle Phillips, formerly a catcher who had cups of coffee with the Blue Jays and Padres, would like to return to playing in 2013, tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com. Phillips, 28, entered Spring Training camp with Toronto this year, but his contract was voided due to an injury, at which point he was hired by Cubs GM Jed Hoyer as a scout.
Johnny Damon's long stint on the free agent market has officially come to an end. The outfielder's minor league deal with the Indians is complete, the team announced. Damon will earn a $1.25MM salary in the Major Leagues plus another possible $1.4MM in bonuses, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter).
The deal will include a full no-trade clause and allow Damon to explore other opportunities should he lose playing time once Grady Sizemore returns. Sizemore is expected to miss 8-12 weeks due to back surgery.
Damon, 38, figures to step into Cleveland's left field situation as soon as he's ready to join the team. Shelley Duncan has started all five of the Indians' games in left, but he's best deployed as the right-handed half of a platoon. A fit between the Tribe and Damon seemed natural for most of the offseason.
Just 277 hits away from 3,000 for his career, Damon hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 homers and 19 steals for the Rays last season. He has played fewer than 400 total innings in the outfield over the last two years, but he has appeared in at least 140 games in each of the past 16 years.
The Indians tried to acquire Bobby Abreu a few weeks ago, presumably for the same role Damon will fill. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Damon would sign with the Indians (all Twitter links).
The Indians have agreed to sign Johnny Damon to a one-year deal worth $1.25MM plus incentives. He'll play left field in Cleveland and will be allowed to leave if the team stops playing him regularly. Here are some details on Damon's new deal…
- Damon's deal doesn't include a set opt-out date, Peter Gammons of MLB Network tweets. Rather, Damon and GM Chris Antonetti have agreed to address the issue if the outfielder isn't getting enough chances to hit.
- Associated Press reporter Tom Withers hears Damon will start his Indians career on a minor league contract and get a Major League contract when the team adds him to the 40-man roster (Twitter link).
April 12 was the date of two very notable trades in Indians history. On this date in 1916, the Indians acquired future Hall-of-Famer Tris Speaker from the Red Sox after Speaker refused to take a pay cut from Boston. Speaker spent 11 seasons in Cleveland as both a player and a manager, leading the club to its first World Series title in 1920. The Tribe weren't so lucky in the trade market on April 12, 1960, however, when they acquired Steve Demeter from the Tigers in exchange for Norm Cash. Demeter made just five Major League plate appearances after the deal while Cash went on to slug 373 homers in 15 seasons with Detroit.
Here's the latest from Progressive Field…
- Johnny Damon discussed his contract agreement with the Indians in an interview with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern of Inside Pitch on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (the Cleveland Plain Dealer has a partial transcript). "I know what Cleveland really wanted," Damon said. "They wanted somebody with a winning mentality and someone who has been there and done that and obviously I’ve been around for a long time."
- Damon's contract reportedly includes a clause that will allow him to opt out of the deal once Grady Sizemore returns, and the signing isn't yet official since that clause has to be approved by the Commissioner's Office, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Feinsand expects the deal to be finalized on Friday.
- The Indians' success in the 1990s stemmed from their team policy of quickly signing their young stars to contract extensions, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian looks at how the modern-day Tribe are trying to do the same, as shown as their recent deals with Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera.
- The extensions also should quiet rumors that the Dolans were looking to sell the team, writes Mike Brandyberry for Cleveland.com. “The idea we’re selling the team is silliness," said Tribe CEO Paul Dolan.
It's clear to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the collapse of last September bothered some Red Sox players more than others. While some are using it as fuel for motivation, others seem eager to leave it in the past completely. Former Braves manager Bobby Cox told Cafardo that he preferred the latter. "The way I looked at it, you let it go both ways. If we win the World Series, I’d say enjoy it but time to get ready for the next year. Every season is different. I don’t think there should be carryover either way," Cox said. Here's more from Cafardo..
- Major league sources say that Ian Kinsler should average $13-$14MM over five or six years once his deal is done. While he and the Rangers couldn’t come to terms by Opening Day, it’s not out of the question that something gets done during the season. Brandon Phillips of the Reds should be in the Dan Uggla range – about five-years for $60MM. Dustin Pedroia's six-year, $40.5MM deal with the Red Sox now looks like bargain as it goes through 2014 with an $11MM option for 2015.
- When asked if he would consider managing again, Cox didn’t give a resounding no. "I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m done," he said. But he added, “I miss it. I miss it every day." While Cox has deep ties to Dodgers president Stan Kasten, he said he would not consider going back to being a GM. Cox is signed to be an adviser for the Braves through the 2015 season.
- When asked about Johnny Damon remaining on the open market, one AL GM was perplexed and suggested that the Rays, Indians, Orioles, and Tigers could all use him.
- Cafardo's "all-free agent team" features right-hander Roy Oswalt, Damon in center field, Hideki Matsui as DH, Vladimir Guerrero in left field, Magglio Ordonez in right, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, first baseman Derrek Lee, second baseman Aaron Miles, shortstop Felipe Lopez, third baseman Casey Blake. Oswalt tops the rotation alongside Javier Vazquez, who he notes has not officially retired. Cafardo also lists Mike Gonzalez and Arthur Rhodes as the top relievers available.
- Mark Prior’s throwing sessions have looked decent, according to major league sources, and he may be getting ready to throw for teams soon.
- Nationals pitcher John Lannan remains in limbo as he pitches in Triple-A, but as injuries mount his trade request may be heard. The left-hander is only 27 and could fit on many staffs as a fourth or fifth starter, but his $5MM salary is an obvious hurdle.
Johnny Damon will sign within a month, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). The free agent outfielder/DH is looking for an opportunity with 450 plate appearances, according to agent Scott Boras.
"Damon will be signed by May 1st; just don't know where," Boras said.
The Braves are looking for outfield help, but the Indians, Yankees, Tigers and Orioles don't appear to be fits for the 38-year-old Damon. He hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 homers and 29 doubles in 582 plate appearances for the Rays in 2011. He was Tampa Bay's primary DH last year, but maintains he could still play the field if necessary. Boras suggested to MLBTR's Tim Dierkes a month ago that the market for his client would pick up toward the end of Spring Training.
On this date 20 years ago, the Cubs released 29-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer. The southpaw didn't pitch in the Major Leagues again that year, but he returned in 1993 and has since pitched 3,300 innings and won 233 games. His career isn't over yet, as the Rockies may add him to their rotation. Here are today's links…
- The Red Sox had complete access to Chris Carpenter's medical records before acquiring him from the Cubs, Nick Cafardo and Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe report. The reliever also passed two physicals earlier this year, so the Red Sox aren't likely to obtain a different player from the Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein even though Carpenter underwent elbow surgery yesterday.
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney wonders if the Indians could pursue free agent Johnny Damon instead of trading for Bobby Abreu (Twitter link). Dave Cameron of FanGraphs explores the Damon-Indians possibility and says it's hard to argue he’s a worse option than Abreu.
- The Brewers have exchanged figures with closer John Axford regarding a possible extension, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. "I'm not going to jump at anything," Axford said.
Earlier today, the Braves announced that Chipper Jones will undergo surgery on his left knee and is expected to be sidelined approximately three weeks. General Manager Frank Wren said that he was looking to acquire backup outfield help even before the injury and will continue to do so, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
While Johnny Damon remains unsigned, it's unclear how much interest the Braves have in the outfielder, O'Brien tweets. Meanwhile, the Braves are looking for more infield depth as well, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. However, Stark notes that Jack Wilson could be back in action as soon as Sunday.
The latest on the Yankees…
- Before Andy Pettitte signed with the Yankees, Lance Berkman tried to recruit the left-hander for the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Berkman said he was in regular contact with Pettitte and would have approached the front office if he had obtained the go-ahead from his friend and former teammate.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if the Yankees will look to extend Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova to a Derek Holland-like extension in order to cap costs and avoid MLB's luxury tax.
- There was a split between upper management and the field staff over whether to sign Johnny Damon or Raul Ibanez, Tom Verducci of SI.com writes. Damon told the Yankees he would play for whatever they were offering Ibanez, but it wasn't enough.
- Agent Scott Boras says Damon has received nibbles, but no offers. “We have heard from teams who say 'We have interest in the guy but we want to see what our players are going to do,'" Boras said.
- Reds closer Ryan Madson still believes that the Phillies offered him a $44MM contract in November, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro denies that any sort of proposal was offered while agent Scott Boras has a different story.
- Brewers closer John Axford expects extension talks to begin soon as his agent, Dan Horwits, is in town to meet with the club, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel. Axford also says that he won't set a deadline for the talks as he doesn't believe that they would be a distraction to him during the season.
- Multiple scouts told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter) that the Mets haven't been looking for a backup lefty hitting outfielder as of late. Right now it looks like the club will turn to Adam Loewen or Mike Baxter rather than add someone from the outside.
- The Indians are looking for a leftfielder but have no interest in Johnny Damon because of his lackluster defense, a Cleveland front office executive told Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter link). In an interview with Bowden on MLB Network Radio this week, the veteran said that he plans to take his time in choosing a team as he looks for an everyday job.
- The Red Sox's signing of Simon Mercedes marks a change in the club's approach to the international amateur market under new director of international scouting Eddie Romero, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Speier writes that former VP of International Scouting Craig Shipley would never have signed Mercedes because the right-hander lied about his documentation.