Four years ago the Yankees signed outfielder Johnny Damon out from under the Red Sox. Since then he’s had at least three tremendous seasons with the Bombers including last season, one of the best of his career.
Throughout the 2009 season, Damon regularly made it known that he liked playing in New York and wanted to stay. He even went as far as saying that he realized that it might even mean he would have to accept less dollars than he could get someplace else (so much for that).
Things broke down this offseason and it seemed like the Yankees really were never that interested in Damon and have effectively replaced him with a Nick Johnson/Brett Gardner/Randy Winn combo. So exactly what happened? Here, via Joel Sherman of the NY Post, we have a rough timeline of how this offseason went down.
- Shortly after the World Series: Brian Cashman and Scott Boras meet and Cashman reveals that re-signing Damon is important, but they want to re-sign Andy Pettitte first.
- Pettitte signs December 9: A week goes by with no contact between Cashman and Boras. Boras finally makes the first call. Tells Yankees he’s backing off demands for a 4-year contract and proposes 2-year $26 million deal. Yankees turn down deal and counter with a 2-year $14 million deal. Within an hour Boras rejects this deal and proposes a 2-year $20 million deal which the Yankees reject.
- Meanwhile: The Yankees were negotiating with DH Nick Johnson at the same time. Boras contends that the Yankees 2-year $14 million was only good if Johnson turns down the 1-year $5.5 million contract that he eventually accepted.
- This is where Boras says the Yankees stopped negotiating, but Cashman has countered that and said, “On Dec. 17, Scott’s exact words were that he would not take a penny less than $13 million a year for two years. We believed him.” Of course if Boras’ 2-year $20 million counter offer is real it proves that this is not 100 percent true.
- December 18: Cashman called Boras to inform him that the Yankees signed Johnson and were no longer interested in Damon. Damon said that he appreciated his time in New York and that he understood it is a business.
- Last week (probably January 22nd or 23rd): Damon calls the Yankees to see if there is a way the two sides could work things out. With Hal Steinbrenner on his honeymoon much of the Yankees front office believe that $2 million would be as far as the Yankees would go. They do float the idea that if he were willing to accept a $6 million deal with as much as $3 million deferred at no interest Steinbrenner might be willing to reconsider. Damon rejects the idea.
- January 27: Free agent outfielder Randy Winn informs the Yankees that if they aren’t willing to wrap up a deal for 1-year $2 million, what the Yankees were looking to sign a 4th outfielder for, he was ready to sign with the Washington Nationals. Despite trying to put off signing an outfielder, probably waiting for Damon to accept a low-ball offer, the Yankees don’t want to risk ending the game of musical chairs without a free agent they deem acceptable and sign Winn.