Damon: "The Yankees haven't made an offer"

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Johnny Damon, walking back the rumors from the weekend:

“My friends and family are calling to tell me about this offer and what
I want and it’s all wrong.  The Yankees
haven’t made an offer and I haven’t told them what I want. Everything
else is not true. Two years, four years, all that happens when Scott talks to the
Yankees. That comes later but we haven’t had any talks
at all. I don’t know where all this stuff came from.”

Maybe it’s lawyerly withdrawal setting in, but I think that this statement is deviously consistent with what was reported over the weekend.  Let’s parse:

“The Yankees haven’t made an offer . . .”  Well, that doesn’t contradict any of the business from over the weekend, because according to the previous report, Boras told them not to bother.

“I haven’t told them what I want.”  I guess there are a couple of cute ways to handle this: (a) “I haven’t told them what I, you know, really want, I just told them the lowest possible place they had best start the bidding; or (b) “I haven’t told them what I want, my agent has.”

Yes, I know I’m reading way too much into those statements. Johnny Damon is a number of wonderful things, but a master of obfuscatory syntax is probably not one of them. And it’s not like this is a legal proceeding. There’s no need to stretch to reconcile contradictory reports. If Damon or his agent say one thing on one day and another thing on another, no one is really gonna squawk.

No, in reality this is probably just a case of Damon playing good cop to Scott Boras’ bad cop in an effort to counteract the overwhelmingly negative response to his reported demands and to set it up nicely for him to accept the Yankees’ two-year offer without having to admit that he caved in the face of the team’s superior leverage.

But hey, we’re entering the slowest time of the entire annual baseball news cycle, so this sort of flyspecking is to be expected.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.