Johnny Damon, once the face of the Kansas City Royals, is now an unrestricted free agent who is looking for a team. Having reached his 39th birthday on November 5th, Damon may be looking the end of his playing career directly in the eye.
A career .284 hitter, Damon has amassed 2,769 hits, with 235 home runs and 405 stolen bases. In his final season playing for the Royals (2000), Johnny had 214 hits while leading the league with 136 runs scored and 46 stolen bases. His .327 batting average that season was a career high.
When he was last seen on the playing field, Johnny played two games for Thailand in the World Baseball Classic, going 3-for-7. Johnny's mother is Thai, and he jumped at the opportunity to promote the sport in the Thai community. Johnny Damon also conducted some baseball clinics in Thailand in 2007, when he was a member of the New York Yankees.
After leaving Kansas City in a three-way trade involving the Oakland A's and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Damon went on to be a key catalyst on two World Series championship teams—the 2004 Boston Red Sox and 2009 New York Yankees.
Royals GM Dayton Moore has been working diligently this offseason to improve the club. The recent signing of Jeremy Guthrie and trade for Ervin Santana are indications of better days ahead for Kansas City baseball fans.
Now, how about Dayton Moore bringing Johnny Damon back home to Kansas City as added icing on the cake? On top of whatever Damon delivers on the field, the fan reception would probably be enormous.
It may be a long shot, but what do the Royals have to lose? Johnny would come at a bargain price. More importantly, in a platoon role (if he has anything left), Damon could help the team while providing veteran leadership.
In baseball, moves such as this have happened before, with some working out very well. Tony Perez returned to the Reds, and Reggie Jackson to the A's to finish their careers. Both were over 40 years of age at the time, and are now members of the Hall of Fame.
The signing might even rejuvenate Johnny Damon, who is just 231 hits shy of 3,000. It could also turn out to be PR magic: the return of a beloved warrior and a proven winner.