Yankee GM Brian Cashman had a conference call yesterday with members of the media where he all but closed the book on Johnny Damon. Brian Hoch of MLB.com has the story:
NEW YORK — Johnny Damon was hoping to find his team by the end of this week, and it appears that his employer will not be the Yankees.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman all but closed the door on Damon’s four-year tenure in pinstripes on Tuesday, telling MLB.com that the free-agent outfielder remains out of the club’s financial reach.
“I’m not having any discussions on him,” Cashman said in a telephone interview. “His abilities exceed the money that I have.”
Damon himself appears to understand this reality more than many fans. He made the following statement:
In a text message sent to the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, Damon said that he has choices on the market, but discussions with the Yankees indeed stalled after the club signed Johnson in mid-December.
“Never started again,” Damon said of the negotiations. “They have their budget.”
About the notion of the Yanks adding money to their budget, Brian Cashman doesn’t sound like he’s going to push very hard on this one, which is the only way more money would be added to the budget. He said:
Though the Yankees have been steady with their intent to reduce payroll from their 2009 figures, it has been speculated that Cashman could go to ownership and request an increase, as he did last year to fit in both Mark Teixeira and Andy Pettitte. The general manager downplayed that possibility.
“I’ll always try to get the budget pushed, but you’re not always successful,” Cashman said. “The Steinbrenner family has been extremely generous for adding talent, but you can’t do everything.“
Manager Joe Girardi chimed in and agreed:
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Tuesday at the B.A.T. Dinner in New York that he had spoken to Damon recently, and the outfielder’s spirits were high. The same could not be said for the odds of Damon returning to the Bombers.
“I don’t think anything is completely shut until it’s completely shut,” Girardi said. “But we’ve talked about our budget and what we have, and it has to work within everyone’s framework. I don’t see it getting done, but you never say never.
So let’s tally this all up. The GM who would be making the signing doesn’t see it happening, the player himself doesn’t see it happening, and the manager who has to deal with both of them doesn’t see it happening. About the only one trying to keep this flame alive is Scott Boras, for obvious reasons.
What many fans overlook is the way that the Nick Johnson signing and Javier Vasquez trade played into this. The money that the Yanks had available earlier in the off season has been spent elsewhere. The 2-14 offer to Johnny doesn’t exist anymore, that’s where Scott Boras blew this one for his client. Even if the Yanks were to sign Damon on the cheap (say 5-7 mil) those much-needed days at DH that kept him going last year are no longer available. That’s another reason why Cashman is credible saying he only has a part-time LF job open. I don’t think Johnny can physically hold up as an everyday player position anymore, and given his lousy defense (much of which I believe is health-related) he will be more productive getting a few days a week at DH. As I’ve totaled this equation from both sides, it simply hasn’t added up to me for a long time.
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