I think Johnny Damon’s comments yesterday have been overblown – he backed off a few hours after he made them. And when asked point blank if he wanted a trade, he said no. He did hint that a trade might make sense if he couldn’t play regularly, but calmed down after talking to Joe Torre.
Still, the Yankees will face a roster crunch once Jason Giambi returns to the club to act as the regular DH. Damon has lingering injuries that will keep him from starting in center field regularly. Between Giambi and Damon, that’s $34MM in 2007 salary spent on the designated hitter.
It’s not just Damon who could be traded – either player is eligible. Let’s start with Damon though. His name first came up on July 26th, with the Braves slightly interested. Damon’s contract pays him $13MM annually through 2009, so that’s an obstacle. And he’s owed another $4.4MM this year. His partial no-trade clause probably isn’t a big problem, because it sounds like he’d rather go elsewhere to play every day. The Yankees would have to eat some salary to trade Damon, probably around $8-10MM. Damon at $8MM annually through ’09 isn’t a bad risk.
The Angels were reportedly interested in Giambi back in May, though Bill Stoneman denied it. If healthy, he’d still supply the Halos a needed dose of OBP and power. The problem is that he’s still owed about $33MM from now through the 2008 season and has a full no-trade clause. The Yankees could eat half of the money, but that wouldn’t address a concession for waiving the no-trade. The other problem is that the Yankees and Angels could be battling for the wild card this year if the Mariners overtake the Halos.
Giambi would be harder than Damon to trade, and I imagine it’d be a pure salary dump. Chone Figgins was mentioned in the Angels rumor in May, but that’s a stretch and the Yanks have since acquired Wilson Betemit. Damon might net a better player in return with less salary relief. Both players would probably pass through waivers unclaimed, and I imagine the Yankees will at least go that far this month.
Prospects could be acquired, though probably in the form of a player to be named later realized after the season. Getting immediate help back seems unlikely.