While the Yankees wait for Andy Pettitte to decide if he wants to play in 2011 or retire, Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that they “have shown interest in” former Tigers right-hander Jeremy Bonderman.
Once upon a time Bonderman was a very promising young starter, going 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA and 202 strikeouts as a 23-year-old in 2006, but since then he’s just 22-24 with a 5.19 ERA in 427 innings, including a 5.58 mark in 171 innings last season after coming back from shoulder surgery.
He’s still just 28 years old, but Bonderman is five years removed from his last healthy and effective season and showed significantly decreased velocity in his return from injury last year, averaging just 89.8 miles per hour with his fastball compared to 93 mph at his peak.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman downplayed Johnny Damon’s chances of returning to New York and Damon himself indicated that it was an unlikely fit because he’s drawing interest from multiple other teams offering regular playing time.
According to Ken Davidoff of New York Newsday–who had the Yankees’ interest in Damon before everyone else–those other teams are the Rays and Angels.
Top prospect Desmond Jennings is the presumed replacement for Carl Crawford in left field, but the Rays could turn to Damon if they feel Jennings isn’t quite ready or perhaps simply use Damon at designated hitter.
With the Angels he’d likely replace former Yankees teammate Hideki Matsui at DH, although it would depend on whether manager Mike Scioscia thinks Damon or Bobby Abreu is less of a liability defensively.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed reports that he’s been in touch with Johnny Damon’s agent, but called it “just part of our canvassing process” and downplayed the outfielder’s chances of returning to New York.
“It’s something we do with every free agent,” Cashman told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. “I can’t tell you if anything’s going to happen there. There’s not a clear role for him here.”
Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher are established as the Yankees’ starters in the outfield and Jorge Posada is expected to be the primary designated hitter, leaving no room for Damon in a regular role unless a trade occurs. He could potentially serve as a bench player, but the Yankees would likely want a right-handed hitter to fill that role and Damon has also indicated that he has other teams offering him starting gigs.