Friday, January 21, 2011
Damon and Manny to Rays
Apparently the Rays are trying to corner the market on former Red Sox.
According to SI's Jon Heyman, the Rays have come to terms with both Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. Damon's deal is reported to be for one year at $5.25M, plus $750K in attendance incentives. I'm a little bit confused by the inclusion of an incentive clause. While Damon was one of the game's most popular players for several years, I don't think anyone would consider him to be an attendance draw. So far, I haven't seen any reports indicating the thresholds of said incentives, but I'm sure those are forthcoming. Considering the mass exodus of star players from last year's division championship team (Crawford, Soriano, Garza, Pena, Bartlett, Balfour, etc.), I can envision a scenario where the Rays attendance might drop--especially if they come out of the gate slowly. As far as I'm concerned, he has a slightly greater than a zero percent chance of cashing in on those incentives. Still, as I mentioned earlier, the Damon to the Rays appears to be a wise choice by both parties.
Manny's deal will be a one year contract worth $2M guaranteed. Yes, you read that right. Manny's salary is dropping from $20M last season to $2M this season. That's quite a change in fortune. While it's not shocking that he took a drastic pay cut, it is a little surprising that the cut was so large. Last season Manny produced 1.6 WAR between the Dodgers and White Sox in 320 plate appearances. Johnny Damon, on the other hand, produced 1.9 WAR in nearly twice the number (613) of plate appearances. All things considered, Manny was much more productive during his playing time than Damon.
So why did Damon get three times as much (when factoring in the incentives) than Manny? I can think of three possible reasons. One, Manny was less than impressive during his 24 game stint with the White Sox when he hit only .261/.420/.319 in 88 plate appearances. (Yes, it was a small sample size, but it's amazing how many people, including smart baseball people, ignore those kinds of facts.) Two, while Damon can't be trusted to play the outfield regularly, he can still play in a pinch. Manny, on the other hand, has the range of a paraplegic and the attention span of a teenager suffering from ADD. Three, Manny had worn out his welcome in not one, but two cities, thus cementing himself as a certified clubhouse cancer.
Regardless of Manny's lesser qualities, his signing is quite a coup. If can repeat his season long production from last season, this contract had be considered the odds on favorite to win the "Bargain of the Offseason" award.