Jon Heyman really, really wants Johnny Damon and Scott Boras to get paid

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SI.com’s Jon Heyman is sometimes accused of being a mouthpiece for agent Scott Boras. Heyman understandably doesn’t like that and tries to squash the notion, but sometimes it’s awfully tough not to get that impression.
Boras’ highest profile client among remaining free agents is Johnny Damon and Heyman has been giving daily (and sometimes hourly) updates about all the teams supposedly interested in the 36-year-old outfielder. His latest column takes that to a whole different level, beginning with this intro:

Damon, with the matinee-idol looks and obvious love of the big stage, is starring in his very own soap opera this winter. At first, it was thought that he was going to cash in big-time following his home run of a regular season and his World Series heroics. Then it appeared to many he was going to be shut out, the winter’s biggest loser. Now it looks like he’s going to do just fine, maybe even better than fine.

That reads like a cross between romance novel and sales pitch. Not only does Damon have “matinee-idol looks and obvious love of the big stage” he’s “going to do just fine, maybe even better than fine” despite turning down offers that will surely top whatever he ends up with. Heyman goes on to criticize the Yankees for choosing to replace Damon with Nick Johnson at a fraction of the price and then writes:

Damon was supposedly hankering for a multiyear deal. Yet, now that he is said to have offers for one and two years from the Tigers, he is thought to be considering taking a one-year offer from either them, the White Sox or Braves over the two-year offer.

There is no “supposedly” about Damon’s desire for a multi-year deal. If he was willing to take one year this whole time he’d have signed already and would likely still be with the Yankees. And the notion that he’s now being offered multi-year deals from several teams but may decide, at age 36, to accept a one-year contract is … well, people have sold bridges in Brooklyn with less outlandish sales pitches.

It can’t possibly be because he doesn’t love Detroit. He’s been publicly cited as a lover of the Detroit Red Wings, Steve Yzerman and even octopi.

Well, obviously if he claims to like the local hockey team, one of that team’s greatest players, and creatures fans throw onto the ice, the Tigers would be making a huge mistake by not signing him. Or something.

In a sometimes dead winter, Damon has been our saving grace. We can only hope that he can keep the mystery going for one more week, when pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

This actually strikes me as a rare bit of pure, unbiased honesty, because Heyman has written approximately 50 million words about Damon during the past three months.

Everyone in baseball is watching to see whether baseball’s most famous agent, Scott Boras, will finally be stuck with a bad deal on a very good player. And a few undoubtedly are hoping.

I’m amused by the spin that Damon signing for less than he was offered by the Yankees would represent Boras “finally” making a bad deal, as if he’s never mis-stepped previously.

All the early talk of multiyear megadeals and public suggestions that Damon shouldn’t receive a pay cut from the $13 million he made each of the last four seasons unrealistically raised the bar at a time his demographic was falling in free agency.

Saving the best for last, Heyman is now suggesting that the “public” rather than his hyperbole-spewing, hype-machine agent was behind reports of Damon not wanting to accept a pay cut. Apparently it’s all our fault. Sorry, Johnny.

Chapman has trouble remembering convo with Cubs management about off-field behavior

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CHICAGO — Star closer Aroldis Chapman joined the Cubs on Tuesday, arriving to a mixed reaction in Chicago and saying he couldn’t remember what management told him about off-field expectations and behavior.

After Chapman’s awkward introductory news conference, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein insisted Chapman understands what the Cubs expect of him after an offseason domestic violence incident.

When the Cubs announced the trade with the New York Yankees on Monday, the team released a statement from Chairman Tom Ricketts saying they were aware of his 29-game suspension to begin the season under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy.

Ricketts said he and Epstein talked by phone with Chapman before the deal was completed and “shared with him the high expectations we set for our players,” adding that Chapman was “comfortable” with them.

But when asked repeatedly about that phone conversation before Tuesday’s game against the crosstown White Sox, Chapman said through an interpreter that he couldn’t recall details because he was taking a nap at the time the call came in.

The question was asked several more times. A Cubs spokesman once asked the question himself to the interpreter, coach Henry Blanco.

“It’s been a long day,” Chapman said. “Trying to remember.”

Asked again several minutes later during the group interview if he could now remember what Ricketts said, Chapman shook his head.

“I still don’t remember,” he said in Spanish.

Epstein called it a misunderstanding and that Chapman was “pretty nervous” as he faced seven cameras and more than two dozen reporters.

“I was on the call, Tom was on the call, Aroldis was on the call and Barry Praver, his agent, was on the call. It happened and it was real,” Epstein said before the Cubs’ 3-0 loss to the White Sox.

Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots in the garage of a Florida home in October. The woman later changed her story and no charges were filed.

“You learn from the mistakes that you make,” Chapman said.

The case caused the Los Angeles Dodgers to back out of an offseason trade for Chapman. Cincinnati eventually traded him to the Yankees, and after his suspension, the 28-year-old Cuban converted 20 of 21 save chances for New York.

The Cubs have long boasted of stocking their roster with high-character players, helping earn the “lovable losers” label they’ve carried for decades since their last World Series title in 1908.

But the Cubs (59-40) have retooled their roster under Epstein and have the best record in the major leagues despite Tuesday’s loss in which Chapman didn’t pitch. Chapman, who threw a 105 mph fastball last week, fills perhaps the team’s largest hole as he replaces Hector Rondon as closer.

The Cubs sent four players to the Yankees, including shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, to get one of the game’s top relievers. Epstein said they wouldn’t have made the deal if not for the phone call he and Ricketts had with Chapman.

“Tom laid out the exact same standards that he lays out to everyone in spring training,” Epstein said. “He said, extremely clearly, `Look, Aroldis, I tell all the players this in spring training and it’s important you hear it and I need to hear from you on this. We expect our players to behave. We hold our players to a very high standard for their behavior off the field. And we need to know you can meet that standard.’

“Aroldis said `I understand. Absolutely, I can.'”

The Cubs activated Chapman before Tuesday’s game and designated left-hander Clayton Richard for assignment.

Reaction to Chapman’s acquisition in Chicago has been tepid. While there were supportive fans on talk radio, the Chicago Tribune carried a front-page column Tuesday criticizing the move. The back of the Chicago Sun-Times tabloid read “Spin City” over a picture of Epstein.

Chapman said he expected a “good reaction” from Cubs fans. He was also asked during the 20-minute meeting with reporters in the visiting dugout at U.S. Cellular Field if we would consider working with organizations looking to prevent domestic violence. Chapman said no.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon defended Chapman.

“He did do a suspension, he has talked about it, he’s shown remorse,” Maddon said. “Everybody else has the right to judge him as a good or bad person. That’s your right.

I want to get to know Aroldis. I think he could be a very significant member and he’s got the potential, yes, to throw the last out of the World Series. And if he does, I promise you I will embrace him.”

Report: Padres working on trading Andrew Cashner

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 21: Starter Derek Norris #3 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network reports that the Padres are working to trade starter Andrew Cashner. He notes that a deal may be consummated before he takes the hill for Tuesday’s start in Toronto against the Blue Jays. The Marlins, Orioles, and Rangers have had reported interest in Cashner.

Cashner is 4-7 with a 4.79 ERA and a 61/27 K/BB ratio in 73 1/3 innings. He missed over three weeks between June 11 and July 2 due to a strained neck.

The right-hander is earning $9.625 million this season and will be eligible for free agency after the season.