UPDATE, 12:15 PM: Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com was told by a source that the Rays are indeed talking to Damon and that an agreement could “certainly happen,” but also that nothing is close.
2:29 AM: Johnny Damon has found a new home for the upcoming season. Well, almost.
According to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, the 37-year-old free agent is “closing in on a deal” with the Rays.
Damon also drew legitimate interest from the Yankees, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Angels this offseason, but he probably recognized that he has a better shot at playing time down in Tampa Bay, where the Rays have been ravaged offensively by free agency and have some question marks in different areas heading into spring training this year.
The 15-year major league veteran can’t be trusted to play the outfield anymore — at least, not on a regular basis — but he should find enough at-bats at designated hitter to remain satisfied and to produce at a somewhat high level. At the worst, he’ll make for a useful pinch-hitter.
Damon finished with a .271/.355/.401 batting line, eight home runs and 51 RBI in 539 at-bats last season for the Tigers. He can probably match a few of those stats if given ample looks with the Rays.
Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was arrested in Toronto back on May 8 on charges of assault against a woman and he has been on MLB’s administrative leave list ever since — that leave having been extended twice already.
Canadian authorities aren’t revealing any details about the case so as to protect the identity of the accuser and it’s unclear where MLB’s investigation into the matter stands at this point, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports opens his latest column with this note …
Toronto Blue Jays star closer Roberto Osuna’s domestic issue is said by people familiar with the case to be serious and involve allegations of a physical nature, which would draw a significant ban.
Heyman notes that Major League Baseball handed 15-game suspensions to Jeurys Familia and Steven Wright for domestic assault cases where there was no physical abuse — or none proven — and that Aroldis Chapman got 30 games after a police report revealed that he did get physical with the victim and also fired a gun.
It sounds like Osuna could be facing a suspension of at least 20-25 games, given the precedent. Again, though, we don’t have any actual details.
Tyler Clippard has been operating as Toronto’s primary ninth-inning man in Osuna’s absence.