Friday, January 21, 2011
Rays, Damon Talking Deal
According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, the Tampa Bay Rays are talking to Johnny Damon about bringing him to Florida to fill their perpetually vacant designated hitter slot. Despite an early report by Yahoo! Sports Tim Brown who made the deal seem imminent, a source close the negotiations disputed the report calling it "very premature." While that doesn't mean a deal couldn't get done within the next few hours, it's probably more reasonable to expect a deal to get done by midway through next week, if at all.
Along with Manny Ramirez and Vladmir Guerrero, Damon is one of the last name brand free agents still on the market. Now considered to be an aging-DH type who can only play the field sparingly, the chances Damon receives any multi-year offers is highly unlikely. The smart odds are with Damon eventually agreeing to a one year deal worth between $2-4M. Depending on how he produces next season, could end up being a solid bargain.
Outside of a few scattered reports, it's been a pretty quiet winter for Damon. The Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels, and Dodgers have expressed some interest, but it was mostly just the "kicking the tires" kind of interest. Outside of the Angels, none of those teams were likely to give Damon the kind of playing time he desires.
Damon looks to be a good potential fit in Tampa. He's a left-handed batter in a division that's becoming increasingly right-handed in terms of pitching. Last season, Damon put up a .270/.352/.408 line against righties. It's solid, but not spectacular. Going into his age-37 season, this is what we should come to expect from here on out.