Johnny Damon Rumors
Wei-Ying Chen, Hiroki Kuroda and Carlos Pena obtained the biggest free agent contracts handed out by AL East teams this offseason, not counting the Yankees’ extended agreement with C.C. Sabathia. Here’s the latest on the division...
- Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe that he’s operating differently in Baltimore than he did as Boston’s GM. “I have a fresh start in Baltimore,’’ he said. “I believe I could do a better job in one-on-one communication in a couple of different areas of the job.
- Ian Browne of MLB.com checks in with Ben Cherington, who’s now wrapping up his first offseason as Boston’s GM. Though Cherington says he’s far from unflappable, his boss, Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, says he’s off to a “flying start.”
- The Orioles haven’t ruled out Johnny Damon, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. The Orioles have switch-hitting DH Wilson Betemit in place, but they could shift him to third at times or play Damon in left if their interest in the free agent is serious.
- Yankees catcher Russell Martin told Heyman that he was pleased to see the Cardinals recognize the value of Yadier Molina’s all-around game with a $75MM deal (Twitter link). "He kind of set the bar," Martin said.
I had a chance to catch up with super agent and MLBTR reader Scott Boras after today's baseball analytics panel at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. A few highlights:
- Asked what led Edwin Jackson to take a one-year deal with the Nationals, Boras said, "In Edwin's case, it was choice. We had multiyear deals, a number of them. We really felt that it was best for him, at his age, to be with a particular team at a particular time and then go into the free agent market next year." I was curious as to whether Boras thought Jackson would improve his market position with a better 2012 performance, and the agent explained, "Our metrics, our analysis, we felt that his evolution as a pitcher is coming. I think he was developing certain pitches as his season went on. We really felt it was best for him to do a one-year contract rather than a three-year deal."
- Speaking of the agency's analytical tools, Boras has internal metrics he does not share with teams in negotiations, he noted during the panel. These analytics instead help determine how the agency values the player as a starting point. Sabermetric guru and Red Sox employee Bill James jumped in to question Boras on what he does when a GM places a significantly higher value on a player than Boras does, "other than celebrate." The agent replied that he will, for the most part, guard against poor fits for his clients, unless the client dictates his destination due to family concerns.
- Johnny Damon is "home, working out, waiting for the right team," Boras told me. I asked if Damon was expected a Major League deal, and Boras said, "Johnny Damon was about the third-best DH in the AL. I'm sure there's a lot of clubs that are looking at youth, and by the time spring training ends they may be looking at it differently."
- Lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez is "in play with a lot of teams right now," according to Boras. He elaborated, "A lot of it has to do with situational needs and clubs. In these markets, sometimes late doesn't mean demand, it just means choice."
Here's the latest from baseball's two West divisions...
- The Giants are not in the market for outfielders such as Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Bobby Abreu according to Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). They feel the lineup is too lefty-heavy as it is, and defense is a concern as well.
- Ivan Rodriguez has fielded a few inquiries according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter), including one from the Diamondbacks. Pudge seeks a job with "real playing time," however.
- Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com that he believes he can find regular playing time for Abreu, and that the veteran hitter won't be a distraction after saying he wanted to be traded.
- The Dodgers have signed left-hander Brent Leach, reports Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (on Twitter). The 29-year-old reliever appeared in 38 games for the Dodgers in 2009 (5.75 ERA), but spent last season in Japan.
The Yankees are reportedly in "extensive" talks with Raul Ibanez about their DH job, but another option is no longer on the table. Johnny Damon told George A. King III and Joel Sherman of The New York Post that both he and the team are no longer considering a second tour of duty in New York.
"We both are looking at other options now,'' said Damon, adding that it's "unfortunate."
GM Brian Cashman acknowledged that the two sides spoke about a possible reunion, saying: "He called and I told him the truth. He is not the No. 1 option if and when I turn to DH options."
Earlier today we heard that even after the A.J. Burnett trade, the Yankees only have enough money to sign Eric Chavez or a left-handed DH, not both. Team executives will meet next week to reconsider the budget once the trade is made official, however. More than 58% of nearly 12,000 MLBTR readers prefer either Ibanez or Vladimir Guerrero to Damon according to the results of this morning's poll.
The Yankees agreed to trade A.J. Burnett to the Pirates yesterday, two days before their pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Spring Training. With less than 24 hours officially remaining in their offseason, let's round up the latest news surrounding the team...
- Burnett will take his physical tomorrow and final approval of the trade from the commissioner's office is likely to come Monday afternoon, reports Erik Boland of Newsday (on Twitter).
- Even after the Burnett trade, the Yankees have room in the budget for Eric Chavez or a left-handed DH but not both, according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post (Twitter links). Team executives plan to meet after the trade becomes official to discuss whether room can be made for both.
- The Yankees still prefer Raul Ibanez to Johnny Damon because he's better against right-handed pitchers and on defense, but Damon is not entirely off the board according to Sherman (on Twitter). MLBTR readers were split pretty evenly between those two (and Vladimir Guerrero) in this morning's poll about the club's DH spot.
- Hiroki Kuroda reported to camp today and spoke to reporters (including Chad Jennings of The Journal News) about his decision to stay with the Dodgers at the trade deadline last year. The 37-year-old right-hander also wouldn't commit to any plans beyond this season.
- Joe Brescia of The New York Times chatted briefly with Gene Michael, the team's former GM and current advisor to Brian Cashman. He talked about the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade, the difference between how the Yankees are run now compared to George Steinbrenner's heyday, and more.
The Yankees freed up some money yesterday by agreeing to trade A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for two minor leaguers and a total of $13MM in salary relief. They'll save $5MM in 2012 and $8MM in 2013. Reports indicate that they're expected to sign both Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez once the trade becomes official.
Chavez will fill out the bench like last year, but Ibanez would step in as the left-handed half of a DH platoon with Andruw Jones. Even though Spring Training is right around the corner, there is no shortage of DH-type bats on the open market as our Free Agent Tracker shows. If the Yankees were to decide to pass on Ibanez, they could always turn to Vladimir Guerrero or former Yankees Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. Guerrero is a right-handed hitter, however. They also signed Russell Branyan to a minor league contract recently.
Given Yankee Stadium's short right field porch and the presence of Jones, it makes sense for the Yankees to pursue a left-handed bat. Ibanez hit .245/.289/.419 overall last year but .256/.307/.440 against righties, which is good but not great. Damon (.255/.314/.401) and Matsui (.242/.318/.336) weren't any better against righties, and in fact Guerrero outperformed all three of those guys against northpaws (.291/.315/.428). The Yankees have no shortage of DH options, but which one is the best?
Johnny Damon told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that he considers the Yankees a “perfect fit” for his services given their need for a left-handed hitting DH. The Yankees don’t hold any grudges over the way Damon’s first stint in New York ended, but they haven’t offered him a contract this offseason, and they don’t seem likely to make final decisions on their DH opening until the A.J. Burnett intrigue ends.
Despite rumblings that Damon is altering his offensive approach now that he’s just 277 hits away from the 3,000 hit milestone, he says he's not changing as a player as he nears personal accomplishments.
“It's never been a driving force for me,” he told Heyman. “I always had the intention of being a good teammate."
Damon hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 homers and 29 doubles in 582 plate appearances in 2011. He was Tampa Bay's primary DH last year, but maintains he could still play the field if necessary. I examined Damon's free agent stock in November, concluding that another modest one-year deal is likely. The Scott Boras client appeared to be seeking a $5MM deal about a month ago.
Here are a few odd items of note as Tuesday becomes Wednesday ...
- Executives from three teams believe Johnny Damon has altered his patient plate approach in his quest to collect 3,000 career hits, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Damon is believed to be intent on reaching 3K to increase his odds of reaching the Hall of Fame, which is turning off potential suitors, according to Sherman. The outfielder/DH denies this.
- Outfielder Jose Guillen, who did not play last season, wants to return in 2012, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com (Spanish link). Guillen, 35, last appeared in the Majors in 2010 with the Giants.
- The one-year, $11MM contract the Nationals gave to Edwin Jackson seems more advantageous under the new CBA than it did at first glance, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.
- If the Mets are not in better financial shape by next offseason, Commissioner Bud Selig must take action, opines Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Doing so would be difficult for Selig, writes Rosenthal, as Wilpon is a long-tenured and well-respected owner.
- For a look at how each first-year GM fared this offseason, check out this writeup by John Schlegel of MLB.com.
9:50pm: Talks were ongoing as of Friday evening, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and do not include Garrett Jones. Brink adds that Bucs are more receptive to taking on salary than moving a player or prospect.
4:14pm: The Yankees are telling the Pirates that absorbing $10MM isn't enough, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.
3:47pm: The Pirates appear to be willing to absorb $10MM in a trade, Heyman tweets. The Yankees have been pushing for an even split and seek an OK prospect in return. Heyman tweets that the chances of a deal remain "decent." The clubs are talking, but aren't close to a deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The Pirates are also looking at other starters.
12:34pm: There seems to be a fair amount of optimism about a deal, Heyman tweets.
10:28am: The Pirates haven't yet offered to pay $10MM of the $33MM remaining on Burnett's contract, Heyman tweets.
7:57am: The Yankees and Pirates continue discussing a possible A.J. Burnett trade, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The Yankees are willing to pay a substantial portion of the $33MM remaining on the right-hander’s contract through 2013, but the teams are still a few million apart. The Yankees first asked the Pirates to pay well over $11MM, Heyman writes.
The Yankees want to create payroll room for a designated hitter and appear to be leaning toward Raul Ibanez, perhaps because they prefer his ability to play the outfield. Johnny Damon and Eric Chavez also intrigue the Yankees as possible free agent additions, according to Heyman. The Pirates rejected the Yankees’ request for Garrett Jones, Heyman writes.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Burnett’s no-trade list includes all of the teams on the West Coast (Twitter links). Sherman expects the Yankees to trade Burnett before Spring Training and suggests the team is waiting to see if the Pirates or another club offers to absorb more money.
The A's agreed to extend GM Billy Beane through 2019 this week, but the offseason hasn't quite ended, so it's time to look ahead to Beane's next move. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle and others have the details on the team's plans...
- Beane said he's looking to sign a DH for the middle of the lineup, Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group tweets. The GM added that it's not easy to find a cleanup hitter right now.
- A's scouts saw Ramirez work out recently and they're interested, ESPN.com's Buster Olney confirms (Twitter link). A final decision on whether to try to sign him is expected within the next week.
- The A's continue pursuing Manny Ramirez and they're much more interested in him than Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez's health is more of a concern, Slusser writes. Signing Ramirez would be the last thing the A's do before starting Spring Training, and a deal could be reached after camp opens.
- People in the A's organization are intrigued by Kila Ka'aihue's power and if the A's sign Ramirez, Ka'aihue would likely get the chance to DH while Ramirez sits out his 50-game suspension.
- The A's have some interest in free agent DH Hideki Matsui, but he's a "real long-shot," Slusser reports. They've had some talks about Johnny Damon, who might be out of the team's price range.
- The A's are considering Koji Uehara, Slusser confirms. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney says “nothing is close” regarding Uehara and that the Rangers are looking to obtain a good return in talks with Baltimore (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal reported Oakland's interest over the weekend.