Two rumors floating around Yankee-Land today: that negotiations with Johnny Damon have heated up and that Hideki Matsui will eventually sign with the Yankees.
The first rumor, that the Yankees are going to soon give Damon a final offer that might only be for one year, makes a lot of sense. Right now, Damon needs the Yankees more than they need him. Considering Damon’s age, his home/road splits, his poor defense, and next year’s free agent class (that means you, Carl Crawford), the best scenario for the Yankees would be bringing Damon back on a 1-year deal. With Granderson now on board, the Yankees can afford to give Damon a final offer and move on if necessary.
The second rumor is pretty interesting in that everyone has pretty much assumed that Matsui’s days as a Yankee are over. Is there no real market for Matsui?
Matsui, like Damon, is also getting up there in age and is an injury risk. He’s even worse defensively than Damon in that he literally doesn’t play the field at all.
But make no mistake: Matsui is a more dangerous offensive player. He hits on the road as well as at home – in fact he has a much higher OPS on the road (.949 vs .815). He hits lefties better than righties (.976 vs. .835 – especially noteworthy since Granderson makes the Yankees very lefty).
Damon’s value as a fielder and a baserunner I think makes them pretty equal players overall. The question really comes down to what the Yankees would want Damon’s role to be. If, with Cabrera, Granderson, Gardner, and the Rule 5 pick Hoffmann all being good defensive players, Damon would mainly just be a DH, Matsui would be just as valuable, if not more so.
Sure, it would be nice to have a more fluid DH situation next year, where Posada, A-Rod, etc could get some starts there, but if signing Damon simply means he’ll DH close to 100 times, the Yankees should sign the player who will command the shortest deal – preferably just one season.