Random thoughts on the Johnny Damon signing

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As you no doubt heard, Johnny Damon signed with the Tigers over the weekend. One year, $8 million.  Some random observations:

  • I don’t buy for a second that Detroit really had a two-year, $14 million offer out there, but their one-year, $7 million offer was widely reported. That was dangling when the White Sox dropped out of the bidding on Friday.  Query:  If you are offering someone $7 million and your only real competition gives up, why do you raise your offer by $1 million? I’m thinking of selling my 2004 Honda Accord.  I think I’ll call Mike Ilitch, tell him that no one else wants it, and then demand $50,000.
  • Seriously, though, Ilitch really, really saved Boras’ bacon here.  In the space of a couple of days we went from a situation in which Damon was facing the contractual abyss to one in which he can take a $2 million pay cut next year and still say that he made out better for 2010-2011 than he would have had he taken the last offer the Yankees made him and which everyone said he was a moron not to take. Sure, he’d probably rather be in New York than Detroit, but if you don’t think Boras will spin this as a Bobby Abreu kind of thing at the press conference later today you’re crazy;
  • Not that an even $6 million contract next year is a given. Comerica Park is much bigger than Yankee Stadium, which will expose Damon’s poor arm and will likely depress his power numbers.
  • The no-trade clause which was reportedly included in the deal is rich indeed.  The team most likely to trade for Damon in the middle of the season is the Yankees, who are taking a chance on Brett Gardner as an everyday player. The odds of Damon not waiving his NTC for them — or for any other contender on a coast — are so infinitesimally small that they’re not even worth calculating. I bet Boras asked that the NTC be included so that he could claim that, yes, Detroit was where Damon always wanted to be. Even if we know that’s not really true.
  • Curtis Granderson’s 2010 salary: $5.5 million. Damon’s: $8 million. Just sayin’!

Johnny Damon will help the Tigers. Of course he would have helped them even more at $7 million or less too, but since Mike Ilitch doesn’t seem to care a whole hell of a lot for that supply and demand thing, we’ll never really know.

The Marlins made an empty threat. Giancarlo Stanton made an empty promise.

Associated Press
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I covered the main press conference about Giancarlo Stanton earlier, but afterward he and his agents fanned out to various TV shows, radio shows and reporter scrums from which some new, fun things have spun out. Part of what they’ve talked about is silly and meaningless, part of it just meaningless.

Here’s the silly and meaningless, from a Marlins official, apparently, trying to bully Stanton into accepting either the Giants or the Cardinals trades despite the fact that he told them beforehand that he was not willing to go to either of those teams:

This is silly because it comes off like a threat. Like the worst possible thing that can happen to a guy is to stay with the very team that is making the threat. It’s like telling your wife that if she does not leave you, she’s stuck with you forever.

It’s meaningless too, in that Stanton has an opt-out clause after 2020. If the Marlins could not make a trade Stanton would approve, he’d simply collect close to $90 million and then leave at age 30. Oooh, don’t throw me into that briar patch, Mr. Jeter!

Not that Stanton’s people are offering statements of serious gravitas. His agent was asked about Stanton’s opt-out rights, which he retains even though he’s now with the Yankees:

That may very well be true! He just got here and everything is going great so far. It’s totally empty, of course, because anything can happen between now and the fall of 2020. If the big time free agents of the next two years sign for the sort of money that makes Stanton look underpaid, he’ll certainly opt-out, even if he wants to stay with the Yankees. Ask Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia how that works. The opt-out clause is pure, unadulterated leverage for a player and unless he totally craters over the next three seasons he’ll most certainly use it, regardless of present desires.

Which, hey, that’s how things work when a big trade or free agent signing happens. Everyone who has lost looks bad and everyone who won sounds happy. Then, later, the baseball happens.