UPDATE: There’s no deal yet. This morning Jim Bowden says that the sides are still talking, and Ken Rosenthal — who had the original report — notes the same thing, though adds that he believes a deal will be done shortly.
12:06 AM: From Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal comes this rather surprising late-night free agent signing:
It’s not clear what kind of deal Damon is getting or how much it will be worth. The 38-year-old struggled mightily to attract interest on the open market this winter because of his lack of defensive versatility (or, rather, ability), but he batted .261/.326/.418 with 16 home runs, 73 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 150 games last year for the Rays and could be a useful member of the Cleveland bench this season.
Let’s just hope the Indians aren’t considering entrusting Damon with starting left field duties.
In a less-notable move on Friday, the Rays acquired right-hander Wilmer Font from the Athletics in exchange for minor league right-hander Peter Bayer. Font was designated for assignment by the A’s on Wednesday.
This is the second trade involving the righty since the start of the season. The Athletics acquired 28-year-old Font from the Dodgers in late April, but were underwhelmed by his performance after he racked up 11 runs, five home runs, four walks and nine strikeouts in his first 6 2/3 innings of relief. While the rookie has yet to prove himself at the big league level, he posted a much more respectable pitching line with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017, going 10-8 in 25 starts with a 3.42 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 11.9 SO/9 in 134 1/3 innings. It’s still unclear whether the Rays intend to give him another opportunity in the majors this year or use him as depth in the minors.
Bayer, 24, is still a ways away from cracking any major league roster. He advanced to High-A Charlotte prior to the trade and allowed eight runs, two homers, six walks and six strikeouts in his first four innings.