UPDATE: The Daily News is reporting that, despite the contact between Damon and the Yankees, Damon in New York is “unlikely” and that “there just isn’t enough playing time” for him in the Bronx.
Wednesday, 6:58 PM: Ken Davidoff of New York’s Newsday heard from a source Wednesday that the Yankees have spoken with the representatives for free agent Johnny Damon about a possible reunion.
A deal is “not close” and “far from guaranteed,” however, because the Yanks can only offer Damon limited looks at designated hitter (where Jorge Posada is expected to start most nights) and in left field (where Brett Gardner has proven himself worthy of everyday playing time). Damon is thought to be looking for more of a regular gig.
The 37-year-old veteran batted .285/.363/.458 with 77 total home runs over four seasons with the Yankees from 2006-2009, but he finished with an unremarkable .277/.355/.401 line over 539 at-bats this past year in Detroit. He’s also a very poor defensive outfielder.
The free agent market is nothing more than a scrap heap at this point, but the Yankees can do better in their search for bench players. Or utilitymen. Or whatever Damon would be in New York.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.