Prior to the season, I had the following to say about the possibility of bringing back Johnny Damon in 2010:
This begs the question, of course, of whether the Yankees would resign Damon to a fresh contract should he have another year like 2008. If Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, and Manny Ramirez each have exorbitant demands, the Yankees may be inclined to bring back Xavier Nady or Damon on a two year deal. In the current market for outfielders, Damon would probably command 8-9 million annually, a sum definite to be lower than that of the other free agent left fielders. I would definitely consider bringing him back if he shows absolutely no decline from 2008 to 2009. His defense in LF is very strong, and I have a feeling that he will thrive as the #2 hitter. What would you do?
Damon is hitting .278/.363/.505, and the new Yankee Stadium seems tailor-made for his swing. However, his defense has taken an incredible turn for the worst, as our own Chris H. noted a few days ago:
In 2007, Johnny Damon’s UZR in left was 7.5. In 2008, his UZR was 6.7 and his range, which is one of three defensive components included in one’s UZR, was actually better than it was in 2007. However, this season the valuable defensive player that Damon was only a year ago has failed to materialize. Damon’s UZR is -9.4 and his range is non-existent. He has suddenly become a liability rather than an asset to the team. In fact, Damon’s UZR has him ranked as the worst defensive left fielder in all of baseball (with regular playing time).
Hmm. So Damon’s offense is worth keeping, but his defense makes him a liability. Luckily, there is a way to have him spend most of his time at the plate, while keeping him away from the outfield. WIth Hideki Matsui an impending free agent, the Yankees will have a hole at DH, and they should strongly consider Damon for that role. Matsui’s and Damon’s numbers thus far in 2009 are identical, and Damon has shown no signs of slowing down at the plate as he ages. The Yankees could attempt to fill the hole in LF by going outside of the organization, and would always have the safety net of Johnny Damon should the other options prove too costly. Damon would also be more versatile than Matsui has been, as he could be used in the outfield occasionally. He could play about 100 games at DH and 30 in the outfield, notching 450 AB’s while leaving 60 DH games for Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez. The more I think about this, the more I think it would be an excellent move. I would offer Johnny a 1 year deal at 10-12 million, and might be willing to give a second year at a lower salary.
Do you agree? Or would you go in a different direction?
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