Yankee fans hoping to see Johnny Damon return to the Bronx have reason to hope as Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated was on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show yesterday and said that that the Yankees have been in contact with Damon recently. Thanks to Mike Axisa of MLBTR’s for this one.
Here is a brief transcript of what Heyman said:
“He did meet or talk to the Yankees in the last couple of days. Still doesn’t look like a great chance of happening though believe it or not. They are talking, but the Yankees have these budgetary constraints. They’ve been telling other teams they have about 2 million dollars to spend. I think for Damon they would probably go over that. I mean this is a guy who’s had 100 runs scored 9 times and 24 home runs. Terrific player, but I would still say more likely Braves or Tigers, at this point.”
Coming off a four-year $52 million contact, Damon hit the market this year looking for a multi-year offer worth at least $13 million a year. He even went as far as letting the Yankees know not to even bother making an offer for less. So they didn’t. Instead they signed Nick Johnson to replace him in that no. 2 spot in the lineup without ever getting into serious talks with Damon.
Since that time the Yankees traded Melky Cabrera to the Atlanta Braves and have been searching for an outfielder, although no a left handed one according to general manager Brian Cashman (read = not Damon). Further making the point that the Yankees were not interested in Damon, Cashman was rumored to be only offering $2 million maximum to free agent outfielders.
Then a couple of days ago, Jerry Hairston Jr. said that the reason why the Yankees didn’t make an offer to him was because the Yankees were waiting on Damon. That was just speculation on his part, but he did say that he legitimately wanted to return to New York and still never got too far into contract negotiations. Cashman of course denied this.
Now we hear from Heyman that the Yankees have been in contact with Damon again. What Heyman left us with was that the Braves and Tigers are still more likely, but are they really?
The Braves were interested in Damon, but that was before they added Troy Glaus, Eric Hinske, and Melky Cabrera. Now rumors say that the only way they could have a chance at signing Damon would be if his price fell to the $1-$2 million range. Not very likely.
The Tigers might have been interested in Damon, but that ship has sailed. Think about it, part of the reason they traded Curtis Granderson to the Yankees was to save money. They can’t really do that if they sign Damon. They did have some level of payroll flexibility, but that was before they signed reliever Jose Valverde. Ever since then we haven’t heard a peep from them. So the Tigers aren’t very likely either.
So why would Heyman say that even though the Yankees and Damon have been in talks it is still more likely that he’ll sign with the Braves or the Tigers? Well this is a bit of speculation, but his best source is Damon’s agent Scott Boras and he could be doing Boras a favor by mentioning these teams to give Damon some leverage because right now he has none.