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 Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.