Johnny Damon Rumors
MLBTR’s Offseason in Review series began today with a look at the Rays’ busy winter. Here are some notes from the rest of the AL East...
- The Yankees are tired of the physical and verbal risks surrounding Joba Chamberlain in the view of Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The team expects to benefit from having Chamberlain in the bullpen this year, but won’t want to invest multiple years in him when he hits free agency next offseason.
- Teams were once willing to overlook Johnny Damon’s below-average defense to obtain his bat, but Damon hit poorly in 2012. As Sherman notes, teams like the Yankees want offense, yet are passing on the 39-year-old because of doubts regarding his ability.
- The Red Sox haven’t called on free agent third baseman Scott Rolen, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. However, there’s a belief that Rolen would be interested in talking to the Red Sox. It’s not something the Red Sox are expected to consider unless Will Middlebrooks’ wrist injury turns out to be more serious than initially anticipated.
Yesterday, free agent outfielder Johnny Damon told ESPN 98.7 FM's Michael Kay that he would like to hook on with the Yankees for the minimum salary as a replacement for the injured Curtis Granderson. However, Yanks GM Brian Cashman put the kibosh on that idea when he spoke with Kay earlier today, writes ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews.
"He's just not going to fit our needs," Cashman said. "It's the same reason we didn't bring him in last year. We need somebody who can play the outfield every day."
Cashman added that at this stage, he's only looking at internal options and won't be looking outside for outfield help. The Bombers could look to a veteran like Matt Diaz or Juan Rivera, or maybe some of their younger options like Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte, Ronnier Mustelier, or Adonis Garcia.
As for Damon, we haven't heard a great deal of chatter surrounding him in recent months. Back in December, the 39-year-old acknowledged the possibility that he may have to retire if he cannot find a fit.
The Yankees lost Curtis Granderson for 10 weeks over the weekend when he was hit on the forearm by a pitch in his first at-bat of Spring Training and suffered a fracture. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined ways in which the Yankees could replace Granderson in the short-term yesterday, and here's some more on the matter from the New York media...
- Missing significant time due to an injury will hurt Granderson's upcoming free agent stock, but as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, Granderson's impending shift to left field likely would have done the same. Any lack of power stemming from his forearm injury could be very detrimental to his stock. Granderson recently just missed out on the Top 10 in Dierkes' Free Agent Power Rankings.
- From that same piece, Sherman writes to keep an eye on Adonis Garcia, who signed with the Yanks for $400K last season. The 27-year-old Cuban import hit .263/.311/.424 in 57 games between Class-A Advanced and Double-A last season and has impressed the Yankees with his performance in the Venezuelan Winter League.
- Sherman also writes that Cubs officials he spoke with don't get the sense that the Yankees will be interested in Alfonso Soriano given the relatively small amount of time Granderson will miss. He goes on to speculate that that line of thinking also eliminates Jason Kubel or one of the Athletics' surplus outfielders from the equation.
- Johnny Damon appeared with Michael Kay on ESPN radio in New York and told Kay that he would welcome the chance to play with the Yankees in replacement of Granderson, even if the team sent him on his way upon Granderson's return (Andrew Marchand of ESPN with the write-up).
- Meanwhile, Damon told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that while he would definitely welcome the opportunity, he doesn't anticipate that the Yankees will have interest.
Here's the latest from the American League's newest team, the Houston Astros...
- Lance Berkman remains atop the team's DH wishlist according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). There are still issues to be resolved before a reunion takes place.
- Crasnick notes that if the Astros can't bring Berkman back, they're likely to seek a late-20s player who's been blocked and needs an opportunity to serve as DH (Twitter links). They don't have interest in players like Luke Scott, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, and Travis Hafner.
- A few teams are considering right-hander Bud Norris as a back-end rotation option, reports Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). The 27-year-old pitched to a 4.65 ERA in 168 1/3 innings last season and projects to earn $2.9MM through arbitration next winter.
Johnny Damon is hoping to play in 2013 but said he will retire if he doesn't have a new contract by Spring Training, the veteran outfielder told reporters (including Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe) at David Ortiz's charity golf event.
"I liked being home last season with my kids. But I'm in shape and if I could play, I would," Damon said. "We'll see what happens. I still think I have something left if I am used the right way."
Damon hit .222/.281/.329 in 224 plate appearances with the Indians in 2012 and was released by the club in August. It's worth noting that Damon didn't sign his minor league deal with the Tribe until April, so it may be that Damon only wants to return this year if he can get the benefit of a full Spring Training camp (the lack of which could explain his struggles in Cleveland).
The 39-year-old also said he explored a short-term contract with the Red Sox in late September when the team asked him back for a celebration of the 2004 World Series team. Damon said he would return if the Sox signed him to a contract for the final week of the season, but Boston didn't have space on the 40-man roster.
If this is it for Damon, he will hang up the glove after an impressive 18-year career for seven different AL teams that included 2769 career hits, a .284/.352/.433 slash line, two All-Star appearances and World Series rings with both the Red Sox and Yankees.
The Indians removed Damon from their roster six days ago, after he posted a .222/.281/.329 batting line with four home runs in 224 plate appearances as a left fielder and designated hitter. The club designated Accardo for assignment five days ago after he posted a 4.58 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 26 appearances.
Damon hasn't heard if any contenders are interested in signing him, but he wants to keep playing, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter links). The Red Sox will pass on Lowe for now, Cafardo reports.
Some links pertaining to baseball's two Central Divisions, which are currently led by the White Sox and Reds...
- The Reds aren't interested in Lyle Overbay, general manager Walt Jocketty told reporters including John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). Jocketty mentions Overbay's defensive limitation and says his team likes Xavier Paul. Overbay was released by the D-backs earlier today.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti is exploring the trade market for both Johnny Damon and Derek Lowe, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Antonetti feels there's a chance that he can complete trades within their respective 10-day windows. Cleveland recently designated Damon and Lowe for assignment.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that Antonetti is happy with the job Manny Acta has done and expects him to be the Indians' manager in 2013. Antonetti did concede that the front office and coaching staff may have over-evaluated the roster's talent in Spring Training.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says he is actively monitoring the waiver wire and will make claims to improve his team or block others from improving theirs, writes Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Pirates haven't explored an extension with A.J. Burnett as of yet, Huntington told reporters including the Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel (Sulia link). Huntington says the team's focus is currently on making the playoffs.
Damon signed a minor league deal with the Indians in April after an extended stint on the free agent market. The 38-year-old didn't provide much offense, hitting just .222/.281/.329 with four home runs in 224 plate appearances as a left fielder and designated hitter. Damon now has 2769 hits, 235 home runs and 408 stolen bases in his 18-year career. He ranks in the top 50 all-time in runs scored (1668, 31st) and doubles (522, 41st).
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).