MLB Experts Still Expect Johnny Damon Back with Yankees in 2010

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IJanuary 11, 2010

Almost two months ago, free agency took off and many players have been signed and traded.

Many of the top names like Jason Bay, Matt Holliday and John Lackey are off the market, but some key names remain.

Perhaps the biggest name that still remains on the market is Johnny Damon.

Damon was looking for a contract similar to the one he got with the Yankees in the winter of 2005 where he made $13 million per season. But at age 36, not too many people are going to pay that for someone on the decline.

Damon was a center fielder and 32 when he got that deal with the Yankees. Four years later, Damon has been moved to left field and could eventually be headed to a permanent DH role because of his declining range in the outfield.

His bat, however, still makes him an attractive option. Yet, he's still on the market.

According to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman, he still could see the Yankees being interested, but would only make a one-year offer for about $6-7 million.

MLB's Peter Gammons feels that if Damon can't get a two-year deal anywhere, he can strongly see Damon back with the Yankees in 2010.

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo said that Damon knows he expects to take a pay cut, but isn't looking to take a paycut in half, which is something that Damon might be staring at in 2010. Cafardo also said that Damon hasn't had any recent or new conversations with the Yankees and is still uncertain about his status in 2010.

The same statement is what Damon said when he was the guest host on WWE Monday Night Raw back in December.

ESPN's Buster Olney said he talked to a few of the MLB executives around baseball and they all feel like Damon will be back in the Bronx next season, which would mean Damon would have to take a pay cut.

Heyman suggested that teams like the Giants, Mariners, Braves, Angels and Cardinals could have been a fit at one time or another.

The Mariners don't make much sense since they are very young in their outfield and just traded for Milton Bradley to go along with Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez.

The Angels also don't make a lot of sense with their outfield either with Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Gary Matthews, Jr. and Reggie Willits already there.

The Braves at one time seemed like they could have been an option, but Atlanta traded for Melky Cabrera, who will play alongside Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer.

The Giants also seemed like a potential candidate, and they are a team desperate for offense to go along with great starting pitching, but they snagged up Mark DeRosa, who will likely play left field and be in the outfield with Aaron Rowand and Fred Lewis.

The Cardinals thought of Damon as the Plan B, but their Plan A ended up panning out with the re-signing of Matt Holliday to a major deal last week, so St. Louis likely won't pursue Damon.

So that takes care of five potential suitors. Who is left?

The Yankees—they are still the team that makes most sense.

I know it's going to be tough for Damon to take a pay cut, but he's also not getting major offers from anywhere else around the league.

Some felt the White Sox could have been interested, but they brought in Andruw Jones and traded for Juan Pierre to go along with Alex Rios and Carlos Quinton, so Chicago isn't exactly interested either.

Most bad teams could use Damon's services, but does Damon really want to go from a competitive team like the Yankees to a lousy one say like, the Nationals? Probably not.

The Yankees are still the best match for Damon, and many people around baseball see the same thing.

I have been the biggest advocate about bringing Damon back to the Yankees, and it seems like many people think it's the smartest thing for Damon to do.

In 2009, Andy Pettitte had to take a pay cut to stay with the Yankees, going from $16 million in 2008 to $5.5 million in 2009.

Hideki Matsui also went from making $13 million in 2009 to making $6.5 million with the Angels in 2010.

Taking a pay cut is all part of the game, especially when you get older. Someone might want to tell Damon's agent, Scott Boras that.

Damon could use Pettitte's method of thinking, take the pay cut, work hard and play well for another contract. The Yankees could end up rewarding Damon in 2011 if he plays well in 2010.

It'll be tough for Damon to swallow, but deep down, he still wants to win and play for a winner. The Yankees are the best and maybe even his only option on the market.

If Damon takes the pay cut, it could be seen as a very popular decision and popular with the fans. Players who take less money to stay with a team are seen in a very popular light, and Damon has been a very popular player with the Yankees since his first season in 2006.

Damon with the Yankees makes sense. Hopefully it still gets done before it's too late.

Come back to New York Johnny, you are still wanted in the Bronx.


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