Posts Tagged ‘MLB.com

10
Feb
10

Braves offer Damon one-year deferred contract

Will Johnny Damon sign with Atlanta?

It seems the Braves interest in Johnny Damon has increased.

According to an updated post on his blog, Atlanta Braves beat writer David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have made the free agent outfielder an initial one-year offer in recent days.

Reports have varied on how much the Braves offer is believed to be worth.

O’Brien writes the team offered approximately $4.5 million with a portion of money deferred while Mark Bowman of MLB.com’s sources tell him the contract’s total value is under $4 million, including the deferred money.

This development comes the day after Damon sent a text message to the AJC telling them of his hope that the Braves would make a competitive offer for his services and that they are a team that is on the top of his list.

Damon enjoyed one of his best seasons for the Yankees last year, when he posted a .282 batting average, .365 on-base percentage, and matched a career high 24 home runs.

The club apparently is bringing out the big guns in their last ditch effort to land Damon.

The Braves recruited Chipper Jones to contact Damon to sell him on coming to Atlanta.

Chipper wouldn’t confirm that to O’Brien but did list the benefits of acquiring a player of Damon’s caliber.

It is Chipper’s belief that Damon deepens the Braves roster from top and bottom and would give the team invaluable experience in the clubhouse.

If the Braves sign Damon, he would likely play left field for Atlanta and bat first or possibly second in their lineup.

The addition of another proven run producer like Damon would instantly improve Atlanta’s playoff chances this season while also alleviating the pressure on rookie Jason Heyward to make the club out of Spring Training.

If Heyward wins a spot, the Braves could opt to deal Melky Cabrera or Matt Diaz, or they could break camp with an extra outfielder.

While there is a mutual interest between both parties, Damon’s agent Scott Boras is still seeking a two-year contract for his client and claims one team has made such an offer but denies to name the club.

The Braves, Tigers, and Rays are the remaining teams left that have some interest in signing Damon.

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09
Feb
10

Should the Braves still pursue Johnny Damon?

Free agent Johnny Damon

I was asked by hotstove.com to participate in a Braves mailbag question asking whether Atlanta should still try to sign Johnny Damon.

After submitting my response, I read various new media reports claiming the Braves, along with the Detroit Tigers, remain interested in the free agent outfielder.

These reports come not long after Braves officials publicly stated they were satisfied with their club as constructed. While they didn’t shut any doors, it seemed a potential Damon acquisition wouldn’t happen unless the current group of outfielders projected to make the Opening Day roster struggled in Spring Training.

The Braves, who have Nate McLouth, Melky Cabrera, and Matt Diaz in the mix, also seem excited and intrigued about the possibility of the top prospect in baseball, Jason Heyward, winning the right field job.

If the 20-year-old Heyward does make the team, he would do so with only 50 games and 173 at-bats above Class A.

But, he’s that special.

Heyward has been ranked the No. 1 prospect by MLB.com, ESPN’s Keith Law, and Baseball America, who also named him minor league Player of the Year last season.

Some have criticized the Braves for being cheap this offseason, but the fact of the matter remains that they have a bonafide star-in-the-making in Heyward and would be crazy to sign anyone—especially an aging veteran—to a lucrative, long-term contract, effectively blocking their rookie phenom for the foreseeable future.

The Braves would be satisfied to break camp with Heyward if the youngster proves ready, but the uncertainty at the top of their order leaves lingering concerns.

Re-enter Johnny Damon.

If the Braves do decide to pursue Damon again before Spring Training, it will have more to do with the team’s lack of a traditional leadoff hitter than their outfield situation.

Adding a proven winner like Damon to the mix and penciling him atop the Braves order instantly strengthens their line-up from top to bottom.

Atlanta hasn’t had a prototypical leadoff hitter since Rafael Furcal departed for the Dodgers in 2006 and coincidentally hasn’t made the playoffs since.

Also, if the Braves are to get back in the running for Damon it will be because they won’t have to commit more than one year to the 36-year-old free agent, which assures the team flexibility in regards to their future plans built around Heyward.

The Braves say they are about at their payroll limit, although reports indicating the team has at least $5 million remaining in the budget seemingly contradict that statement.

Damon’s stock has fallen so far that the belief around the league is that he could be had cheaply and perhaps for even that one-year deal, which the Braves have preferred all along.

Damon’s agent Scott Boras is still trying to scratch a two-year deal out of Detroit and if he gets them to bite, then the debate ends there.

But if not, the Braves may be smart to abandon their original plan and not wait until they get to Spring Training before jumping back into the Damon sweepstakes.

The team’s goal is winning championships and putting the best product on the field even if that means going slightly over their desired payroll.

If Heyward still impresses in camp, make room for him.

The Braves have pieces they could move if need be.

Nothing should prevent this signing from happening if Damon can be had at the rumored discount rate.

Team officials owe it to the fans, the players, and especially Bobby Cox, who is entering his last season as manager, to do whatever it takes to win now.

The question is: Will GM Frank Wren take the bait?

He seems content to wait, and if Damon falls into his lap, so be it.

In the meantime, the dance continues.




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