Could Nick Johnson be returning to the Bronx? Maybe:
The Yankees and Nick Johnson are talking about the sweet-swinging lefty and on-base machine replacing Hideki Matsui as the world champions’ designated hitter on a one-year deal.
If an agreement is reached, it would be an indication the Yankees will part ways with Johnny Damon, who they view at least as a part-time DH and don’t want him for more than two years and $20 million. The Post reported Tuesday that industry sources indicate Damon isn’t looking to take a pay cut from the $13 million he made last year. Agent Scott Boras is hunting for a three- or four-year deal.
“We have had dialogue, things are moving forward,” agent Rex Gary said of talks between the Yankees and their former first baseman. “Something could happen to speed things up, but it’s hard to predict.”
If Johnson is willing to take a one year deal to return to the Bronx, then by all means he should do it. But at the same time, he needs to understand that he could potentially be leaving both money and years on the table.
Even though Johnson is injury prone, there are many teams looking at Johnson this winter because of his ability to get on base, hit for a high average, and relatively low cost.
Here is a list of teams that have shown interest in Johnson this winter besides the Yankees:
Given that each one of those teams has a hole at first base, I think it's likely that Johnson could land a multi year contract and a chance to play first base everyday instead of DHing for the Yankees.
However, is it possible that Johnson is simply looking for a strong opportunity to show what he can do when healthy on a one year deal in the hopes that he can cash in on the free agent riches next year? If so, then maybe the Yankees situation becomes more appealing to Johnson and his agent.
However, given Johnson's injury history, I think his best bet would be to take as much guaranteed money now as he possibly can. The odds of Johnson playing 150+ games next season are quite low while the risk of him getting hurt and losing a chunk of change in the long run is much higher. Playing it safe now would mitigate the risk for Johnson and enable him to maximize his value on the market right now.