If there was any shred of hope in the Damon-Boras camp that the Braves may pick up Johnny Damon, consider it gone.
A team source tells me that the Braves discussed Damon recently, and the clear sense of the room was that (a) his arm just won’t play in the Turner Field outfield; (b) he’s just not versatile enough to move around, and the Braves want to be able to move around their outfielders this year; and (c) he’s going to want too much money.
On this last point, Braves brass thinks that Damon is going to go for $4-5 million, probably to the Athletics, and they’re not at all inclined to pay that price for him. They’d reconsider if he went cheaper, but they just don’t care enough for him to think about making a bid.
And one last bit making Damon less necessary in the team’s eyes: while everyone — myself included — assumes that the Braves are going to keep Jason Heyward down on the farm until Mother’s Day to keep his service time from running, the Braves are in no way predisposed to do this. To the contrary, they would love to break camp with him, and are taking a “it’s his job to lose” approach this spring.
Overall, the front office is quite optimistic about the team’s chances this year. More so than they’ll let on publicly for risk of creating unrealistic expectations. Whatever the case, I think the takeaway here is that it may be best to view whatever the team does this year as an act being taken by people who think that the Braves will be in the playoffs.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the Blue Jays have signed Steve Pearce to a two-year deal worth $12.5 million.
Pearce, 33 had some health issues in 2016, but he hit .288/.374/.492 across 302 plate appearances when he was on the field and he mashes lefties in particular. Pearce is versatile as well, logging time at first base, second base, right field, left field, and DH in 2016 while splitting time between the Rays and Orioles.
Last week Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang was arrested in South Korea for driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident. That’s bad, but it turns out that it’s nothing new. The Yonhapnews Agency reports that Kang has been arrested for DUI three times since 2009:
Gangnam Police Station in southern Seoul confirmed that it was Kang’s third DUI arrest, with the three strikes law resulting in the immediate revocation of his license. According to police, Kang had also been arrested for a DUI in August 2009 and May 2011. No personal injuries were reported in either case, though he’d caused property damage in the latter incident.
The report also notes that a companion of Kang initially claimed that he, and not Kang, was behind the wheel at the time of the accident which led to Kang’s arrest last week. It was later revealed by the car’s black box, however, that Kang was driving. So add in some obstruction of justice, whether it is charged or not, to the scene. Police are investigating that.
Between all of this and the fact that Kang is under investigation for an alleged sexual assault in Chicago this past season, a pretty ugly portrait of the Pirates’ infielder is beginning to reveal itself.