A's Sign Sheets and Could Still Sign Damon

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?

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.

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3 Responses to A's Sign Sheets and Could Still Sign Damon

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Lots of people saying that Damon has no choice but to sign at a big discount with the Yankees, but I do not believe it. There is just so much money in the game and Boras knows it.

    I remember reading similar stories about Matt Holliday – his market wasn't there, etc., and he ends up getting $120m from a small market team who has a big bill coming due (Pujols), isn't supposed to have any money to spend and is bidding against itself.

    If Holliday can get $120m, Chapman over $30m, don't you think that some team can come up with $7 or 8 million plus incentives for a one year deal?

    I think that teams are a little hesitant to take a player that they want away from the Yankees or else the deal would already be done.

  2. Mac says:

    WoW! Sheets signs for $ 10 million GUARANTEED!

    "It's not the price of stars that ruin the game, it's the price of mediocrity!" … How close to a career .500 pitcher is Ben Sheets?

    You were MOST correct Rob… The Yankess never could have been "in" on Sheets at those kinda' numbers. Makes what the Yankees are paying Vazquez/Pettitte/Hughes/Chamberlain look really thrifty, huh? And the money they are paying Sabathia and Burnett look like smart investments …

    WoW… TEN MILLION guaranteed for a guy that didn't even pitch last season, coming off serious health issues … unbelievable …

  3. Yeah, $10 million is a lot for Sheets. Also consider that the Yankees wanted to get their rotation wrapped up early and didn’t want to get into extended negotiations with a guy whom they didn’t even know for sure they would be able to sign. It makes the entire Javier Vazquez situation make a lot more sense. $1.5 million more for a pitcher who you can be reasonably certain is going to give you 200 innings.

    And if Sheets has a big year, he’s a free agent next offseason too.

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