Damon, Yankees still a match

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As we covered yesterday, there are more outfielders available than jobs open at the moment. The odds of anyone stepping up and offering Johnny Damon the two-year, $20 million+ deal he expected at the beginning of the offseason fall somewhere in between slim and none. Cincinnati is the one team that has an obvious need for him in left field and at the top of the order, but there’s nothing to suggest that the Reds will bid. The Braves and Giants have alternatives and are short of cash. If there’s going to be a race for Damon’s services at any point over the next month, it seems likely to come down to the Yankees and Tigers.
The Tigers, though, have plenty of options. Carlos Guillen and Ryan Raburn are both available to play left field, so while Detroit wants a bat, a pure DH might work out just fine. Jim Thome could put about as many runs on the board as Damon and would come quite a bit cheaper.
On the other hand, the Yankees are pretty much down to one option if they want to further improve their team before Opening Day. They don’t need Damon — they’d surely score tons of runs without him — but he was a key piece in the 2009 World Series victory and it’s hard to believe that the team doesn’t have $6 million-$7 million laying around to throw at him. Damon is surely worth that much more than a possible Brett Gardner-Jamie Hoffman platoon, even if he would be a downgrade defensively.
It probably won’t happen this week or even before the end of the month, but Damon back to the Bronx is still the most likely scenario out there. Nothing else is even close.

Must-Click Link: The Turbulent Final Year of Yordano Ventura’s Life

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 23:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals reacts in the sixth inning while taking on the Toronto Blue Jays in game six of the 2015 MLB American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 23, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.

It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.

Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.