Here are some things we know as spring training approaches: Johnny Damon is still a free agent, the big-money offers for Damon never materialized, and the Yankees could probably use an upgrade over Brett Gardner in left. It would stand to reason, then, that the Yankees would make an offer to Damon — an offer that wouldn’t have to be particularly high, by the way — and he’d accept it, because what other choice does he have?
Well, he could always just retire. Now that the Giants have signed Bengie Molina, Bob Klapisch says that the Giants have nothing left to spend on Damon, eliminating one of the few teams who were thought to be interested. The way he sees it, Damon has just two options: return to the Yankees and accept their lowball offer, or stop playing entirely.
Tyler Kepner draws a comparison between Damon and Kenny Lofton, a comparable player (at least as far as Baseball-Reference.com is concerned) who retired under similar circumstances. And a friend of Damon’s told Klapisch that the left-fielder “is completely in family mode right now” and that he’s at least considered calling it quits. But Damon himself texted Kepner to tell him, “I’m sure things will work out somewhere.”
Could that somewhere be Atlanta? A couple of writers down there think it’s a possibility. But at the very least, a third team — one that’s maybe willing to actually negotiate — would put an end to this silly game of retirement chicken that Damon may or may not be playing with the Yankees. Or maybe that third team will get the Yankees to notice that Damon may be past his prime, but he’s probably worth more than $2 million. (After all, without another team, there’s no reason for them to budge; they’d just be bidding against themselves.) Says Damon via that same text to Kepner, about the Yankees still being a possibility: “I never say never anymore.” Neither do we.