Will Damon fall to the Braves?
Those of you who have been lobbying for the Braves to sign Johnny Damon certainly realize that this isn’t forum for you to receive any encouragement that the club might do so.
But as time passes and clubs prepare to stage their first full-squad workouts early next week, there’s at least reason to wonder if the Braves are going to eventually learn that Damon is willing to accept the bargain-basement offer that they made more than 10 days ago.
Having determined that Damon wouldn’t be willing to negotiate in the range of the one year offer — worth as much as $6 million according to the Chicago Sun-Times — they made last week, the White Sox opted to pull this offer on Friday.
When asked how this affects his club, Braves GM Frank Wren said, “Nothing has changed on our end.”
While the White Sox remain open to opening talks again before Sunday, it appears the Tigers are once again the clear-cut favorites in this bidding. But earlier reports that they made a two-year, $14 million offer are now being disputed.
Still it’s believed the Tigers have offered a one-year deal worth $7 million. This is an offer that would still easily trump the one the Braves made.
The Braves offered Damon a one-year contract that included deferred funds. While the present day value of the offer has never been specified, a Major League source said last week that he believed the offer was for less than $4 million.
This offer was made because Damon expressed a genuine desire to play in Atlanta and because the Braves recognize that the veteran outfielder could possibly benefit them in some ways – namely serving as a leadoff hitter.
But if Damon opts to sign elsewhere, the Braves remain confident in Nate McLouth’s abilities to serve in the leadoff role. McLouth’s inconsistencies at the plate last year seemed to be a product of vision problems that have since been fixed with contact lenses.
In addition, with the ability to spend the offseason resting the left hamstring that plagued him last year, McLouth has the chance to be the efficient base stealer that he was in 2008, when he was successful with 23 of his 26 stolen base attempts.
The Braves also remain confident that Jason Heyward will exit camp as their starting right fielder. As for their left field mix, they believe that Matt Diaz and Melky Cabrera will be able to form a successful platoon.
Still, there remains a chance that the Braves may end up surprised that Damon eventually determines that he’s willing to accept their offer.
In some ways, it’s as if the Braves have made an early offer during a silent auction and now find themselves possibly in position to win with a figure that they understandably assumed would be trumped.
Of course if they were to emerge the winners in this bidding, they would first have to evaluate the affect it would make on their current outfield plans to truly determine the real cost.