From George King:
The Yankees and Nick Johnson are moving toward a one-year deal for the left-handed hitter to be the club’s DH, and it could be announced Friday morning.
Asked today by The Post if there was deal to be announced, Brian Cashman said, “Not at this moment.’’
Johnson has drawn interest from the Mariners and Giants to play first base, a position that isn’t available to him as a Yankee because Mark Teixeira is entrenched there…..
Considering Johnson’s extensive injury history — he missed all of the 2000 and 2007 seasons and appeared in 73 games in 2004 and was out for 63 games in 2003 — the contract is expected to include incentive clauses.
Johnson made $5.5 million a year ago and fits into the Yankees’ budget.
If Johnny Damon doesn’t return, Johnson could hit second between Derek Jeter and Teixeira, although his lack of speed is a detriment in that spot of the order. His power numbers should spike playing 81 games in Yankee Stadium.
There are real reasons to love Johnson as a Yankee. I’ll do a more detailed statistical analysis and projection if the Yankees do in fact sign Nick the Stick, but the important number to know is .402, his career OBP. Furthermore, Johnson has a reverse platoon split much like Hideki Matsui, and his lefty swing is a nice fit for the new ballpark in the Bronx. He would slot perfectly in to the now vacated number 2 slot in the lineup.
That being said, I am puzzled by this move. The Giants are apparently interested in NJ as well, as Ken Rosenthal reports:
Johnson, as reported by the New York Post, is discussing a one-year contract with the Yankees. The Giants, too, are offering one year, but have raised their offer to the $5.5 million to $6 million range, the source said.
I have made no secret of my preference for the Yankees to have Johnny Damon at DH this season. However, if Damon was not an option due to salary concerns, Hideki Matsui should have been the next option. Johnson is no cheaper, is not an appreciably better hitter, and is not a better bet to remain healthy. If the Yankees were going to bring in a DH at 6 million, it should have been Matsui. Signing Johnson while Damon remains on the market will suggest to me that Brian Cashman miscalculated the market on Damon when he let Matsui leave.
UPDATE: Ken Davidoff is reporting that the deal is done, pending a physical, for 1 year and 5.5 million.
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