January 20, 2010
Color my pinstripes skeptical.
But that's what longtime baseball guy Bob Klapisch writes at the Record/ NorthJersey.com, that Damon and his agent, Scott Boras, have painted themselves into a contractual corner.
In short, they once sought $13 million a season — about what Damon earned in '09 — but the market has dried up to the point that all they can hope for is a take-it-or-retire offer from the Yankees.
With only a month to go until spring training, Damon has two options: He can call the Yankees and admit he has nowhere to go. The Yankees, who will listen politely, will tell Damon he can play for $2 million for one season, not a penny or a day more.
Option 2, practically unthinkable after the World Series, would be retirement. A friend of Damon's recently said, "Johnny is completely in the family mode right now" and has considered that option.
Damon turns 36 next season but is coming off his best .OPS in years, plus he hit .364 with six runs scored and three stolen bases (two at one time!) in the World Series against the Phillies.
Yes, Damon's inflated regular-season numbers were partially due to Yankee Stadium's pinball-like qualities. But, hello, the Yankees still play there 81 times a year. There's no reason Damon can't come close to repeating his 17 homers and 18 doubles in the Bronx.
Damon actually considering retirement is about as likely as the Yankees actually offering a "Gotcha!" $2-million take-it-or-drop-dead contract to a guy who just helped them win a World Series. Damon is floating the "retirement" possibility as leverage. He's not really going to retire, just like the Yankees aren't really going to pay him less than what Jose Molina got last year.
Or maybe the Braves.
Somewhere between $2 million and $13 million, I bet.
Damon will look at that golf club and go, "No, I don't want this. Get me the other stick."