According to Marc Craig, Johnny Damon will sign with a team sometime in the coming week. Most fans know that there are limited options for the 36 year-old outfielder, but let’s take a look at just how limited they are.
In the American League, only the Blue Jays, Rays, Yankees, Indians, Tigers, and Athletics actually have room for Damon. In the National League, only the Braves, Reds and Rockies have space. I think NL teams will shy away from Damon because of his defensive inadequacies. Also, the three NL teams have cheaper and very serviceable options in Melky Cabrera, Chris Dickerson and Dexter Fowler. Let’s take a look at each of the aforementioned teams and determine whether or not Damon could logistically end up there.
Blue Jays -The Jays already have five serviceable outfielders if you count Adam Lind, but they did shed some payroll and could add a well-known player to bring in fans.
Rays – Tampa would have to shift Carl Crawford to center and B.J. Upton to right field for Damon to fit with the Rays. I think they rather work on resigning their own players instead of adding someone like Damon.
Yankees – The Yankees have the space for Damon, but is Brian Cashman willing to exceed the budget cap? I think there is still a legitimate shot that Damon ends up in New York. It just makes the most sense.
Indians – I think the Indians would rather give prospect Michael Brantley a shot at regular playing time than sign Johnny Damon. Still, they have the space for another corner outfielder if they want to play Brantley in the minors.
Tigers – I think the Tigers honestly want to give Austin Jackson a legitimate shot at a starting job, but they could sign Damon to split time between center and left field, but I really can’t see that happening. Ryan Rayburn is an excellent player, and Carlos Guillen will likely spend time at left and and designated hitter.
Athletics – They already have a slew of inexpensive outfielders and probably lack the money to sign a player like Damon.
White Sox – The ChiSox need a designated hitter and if Damon took a major paycut there could be a match here. Their outfield is already very crowded, and Damon knows that if he becomes a DH now and only signs a one-year deal, it could really hurt his value.
Braves – The Braves already have a very full outfield. Melky Cabrera is their starting left fielder, and Eric Hinske could always pick up the slack if he falters. I don’t think the Braves want to spend the money on someone like Damon either.
Reds – The Reds outfield is pretty crowded and I can’t see them signing a player with a -9.2 UZR in 2009 after they cut one with a -9.0 UZR. Plus they already have Laynce Nix and Wladimir Balentien.
Out of that list, only the Blue Jays, Yankees and White Sox seem like a logical destination for Damon. I would not be surprised if a mystery team swooped in, but we know the market for Damon is already very slim. I would be even less surprised if he signed an incentive-laden deal with the Yankees sometime this week, but he’ll need to meet the Yankees’ demands.