The New York Yankees signed Randy Winn today and indirectly told Johnny Damon, "Thanks but no thanks." To say the market for Damon is dry would be understating it. The reports are basically down to Detroit or Cincinnati now that Billy Beane officially shot down any Damon-to-Oakland talk even after the A's signed Ben Sheets yesterday.
Damon still brings skills to the table and with his market all but shut completely, he should come on the cheap. Dave Cameron is spot on in suggesting how close this is to the Bobby Abreu saga last year. He never got a deal signed until February and only got $5 million last year.
However, unlike Abreu, Damon brings above-average defense, along with a bat comparable to Abreu's. Damon's UZR dropped in 2009 to -12 runs in left field. But, if you average that out, he's an above-average defender. Damon's 2009 looks to be the outlier to me, and even if he has fallen off a cliff defensively what does that make him? How about Carlos Guillen with better health and better offense at this point.
Speaking of Guillen, the Tigers would be better served by getting him out of the outfield and into the DH spot. I'm not concerned with having no open DH spot to rotate between Magglio Ordonez and Guillen, so this solution to left field works in my mind. Especially when you consider that the Tigers are still spending (foolish) money on a reliever and giving the impression that they aren't quitting on contending in 2010.
If Damon comes cheap, around $4 or 5 million for a single year, I'm a proponent for signing him. Two-to-three win players rarely come for the cost of a below-average player, and $4-5 million would be an underpayment of Damon's talents.
Wouldn't it be nice to underpay for a player?