According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, the Oakland Athletics have signed free agent starter Ben Sheets to a one-year deal worth $10 million plus incentives. He has already passed his physical.
If your first thought was like mine, that the A’s are now out of the Johnny Damon sweepstakes, because we heard yesterday that Damon was their plan B, not so fast. Today we’ve heard from Buster Olney that despite the fact that they’ve managed to sign Sheets, the Athletics are still planning to make Damon an offer.
“Heard this,” Olney Tweeted. “Even in the aftermath of the Sheets agreement, the Oakland-Damon dialogue is continuing.Damon wouldn’t get a lot of $ from Oak, but unless there is some other team bidding other than NYY at $2 million, whatever offer he gets from Oak.($4 m.? $5 m.?)might be best.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean the Athletics will keep the Yankees from signing Damon. The number that the Yankees are supposedly floating around to offer Damon, $2 million, seems like a bargaining ploy. If Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, would get serious about his expectations for Damon’s contract I’d imagine it would start getting closer to the $5 million range and that might even be just a base salary similar to Andy Pettitte‘s 2009 contract (although that is just my guess).
There is also the issue of the Oakland Coliseum. See last season was great offensively by Damon’s standards. His OPS+ was a career high 126, but if you look at his home and away splits that number was heavily influenced by the short porch in right, 136 OPS+ at home vs. 117 on the road. Damon’s career low OPS+, ignoring his first full year in the league, was an 82 when he played for the A’s. Coincidence? At home that season he had an OPS+ of 73 and on the road it was 91.
The question now becomes, will Damon be willing to risk hurting his next contract for a couple of extra million this offseason? The Coliseum is one of the most spacious parks in baseball with loads of foul territory, there is little doubt that his numbers would certainly be worse off there than if he played 2010 in Yankee Stadium.
So what do you think? Might Damon swallow his pride and take slightly less money, if that’s what it came down to, to play for the Yankees than to risk hurting his numbers and his next contract?