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

Leave a comment’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.

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.