SI’s Jon Heyman listened to Scott Boras hold court up at the GM meetings in Chicago, and reports that (a) Boras thinks that Damon should get a four-year deal; (b) Damon doesn’t want less than his current $13 million; (c) the Yankees are saying that they are “absolutely not” going to offer him four years — more like 2; (d) the Yankees offer would be at $10 million per; and (e) the Giants have some interest in Damon.
Setting aside for a moment the fact that Heyman’s report reads more like a press release for Johnny Damon as opposed to a news story (Jon: the reason Damon leads many other players in stats measured “over the past 12 seasons” is because he’s old!) let’s parse this:
Just because the Yankees have more money than God doesn’t mean that they’re going to throw it away stupidly. Indeed, in the past few years we’ve seen the Yankees move from a model of spending outrageous amounts of money stupidly to spending outrageous amounts of money wisely. If you’re the Yankees, in an offseason where almost every other team is looking to slash payroll, and there are at least three all-star caliber left fielders around, why on earth would you give the oldest one $52 million over four years? If I’m Brain Cashman I call the bluff on Damon, wish him well in that big outfield in San Francisco and focus my attention on Matt Holliday.
Which, come to think of it, may be Boras’ hope anyway. If the Yankees are eliminated as a Damon suitor — and a hard demand for a four year deal for the guy should eliminate them — it opens up the market for Holliday, also a Boras client, considerably.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.