Braves could be waiting on Damon to lower his price (UPDATED)

Here's Johnny Damon hitting a three-run triple at Turrner Field last season -- as a Yankee.

Here's Johnny Damon hitting a three-run triple at Turrner Field last season -- as a Yankee.

There are several reasons to believe the Braves have interest in Johnny Damon, not the least of which is the fact that they have yet to declare publicly, “We have no interest in Johnny Damon.” And given that the player is represented by agent  Scott Boras, they would have all the motivation in the world to shoot this rumor down.

I know. We’ve been down this road before. David O’Brien has discussed it on his blog, and I wrote nearly three weeks ago that the Braves needed to take a run at Damon to fill their need for a leadoff hitter. Most of you agreed. I just checked poll results and of 2,750 readers who voted, 78 percent supported the Damon idea.

This is what has happened since: Nothing.

That’s good news if you support Damon’s signing. The market has dried up and there’s reason to believe Boras’s asking price is coming down. Whether it comes down to the Braves’ liking remains to be seen. But there is a report on FoxSports.com that the Braves and Detroit both remain interested.

I sent an email to Wren asking if there was any truth to the report. Still waiting for a response. As a general rule, I can tell you that general managers like to shoot down rumors that aren’t true because they would rather not have the distraction hanging around the team.

(UPDATE: Wren responded with this email: “I’m not going to comment on speculative reports.” Hope you weren’t expecting some clarity.)

Here’s what I believe is going on: Wren understands the team could have an issue at the top of the batting order. He believes, like most, Damon could be a good short-term (one year) fix. But there isn’t much money left in the budget and he is waiting to see just how desperate Damon/Boras get.

I’ll say this one more time: If this is about winning and putting the best possible team on the field, signing Damon is a slam dunk. It sends the right message to Braves players and fans going into spring training. Going, say, $3 million (or just over 3 percent) over a team’s budgeted payroll should not stop this from happening.

178 comments Add your comment

Greg

February 8th, 2010
1:56 pm

Sleeze

February 8th, 2010
1:57 pm

First?? For once, Jeff, I agree 100% with you.

Dandy Don

February 8th, 2010
2:01 pm

If they were going to sign him, it should have already been done. I do not want a one year wonder, enough already we have a center fielder and a back up of which both can lead off. Let’s move Please. 2nd!

joseph killeen

February 8th, 2010
2:04 pm

JEFF NO GET DIAZ OR MCLOUTH OR ESCOBAR OR PRADO NOT DAMON!

J dubb

February 8th, 2010
2:07 pm

I wouldnt mind having Damon as a starter/insurance for our weak lookig outfield. I like Diaz alot but don’t know if he’ll hit that hot if he’s an everyday player. And you can’t really depend on Rookies to tkae you deep in the playoffs. If they start the year out there it could be too much pressure to perform (see Jordan Schafer). But if they could watch Damon and Diaz and McCouth play then they might be ready when the injury bug hits.
I agree, its an easy decision to spend the extra money you squeezed from trading Javy V.

banwins

February 8th, 2010
2:07 pm

I say go ahead and fire Bobby Cox and use his salary to get Damon…now don’t get mad..i’m just saying…..

hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

February 8th, 2010
2:10 pm

What are they waiting for his price to come down to? FREE???? jeezus

Jeff Schultz

February 8th, 2010
2:11 pm

Sleeze — We’ll keep this our little secret.

Jeff Schultz

February 8th, 2010
2:13 pm

Hmmmm — A valid question. Wish I had the answer ($$).

KennyP

February 8th, 2010
2:15 pm

This a Superbowl hangover column, Jeff? I think you just cut and pasted this from 2 weeks ago.

ugaaccountant

February 8th, 2010
2:18 pm

I’d be very happy if the Braves sign Damon for 3 million now and start looking to trade away Melky during ST for anything someone will offer. The money saved by getting rid of Melky will be almost exactly as much as Damon. You and I both know which one is a better batter, which is obviously the key factor for a left fielder.

F-105 Thunderchief

February 8th, 2010
2:19 pm

Maybe they could talk Marquis or Gil Grissom out of retirement.

Jeff Schultz

February 8th, 2010
2:19 pm

Kenny P — Not cut-and-paste. The Fox report gave story new life.

AKT163

February 8th, 2010
2:20 pm

Jeff, how much money are the Braves willing to spend on Damon?

Reid Adair

February 8th, 2010
2:21 pm

You answered your own question, Jeff.

“If this is about winning and putting the best possible team on the field, signing Damon is a slam dunk. It sends the right message to Braves players and fans going into spring training.”

Clearly, it’s not about that. If it was, most of the off-season moves would not have been made – including dealing an Opening Day starter without getting any starters (pitching or offense) in return.

F-105 Thunderchief

February 8th, 2010
2:24 pm

Obviously the Braves should have traded Vazquez to Detroit for a hard-throwing, right-handed prospect. That well seems pretty fruitful.

On topic, Damon makes the Braves considerably better. None of the other offseason moves has.

Dandy Don

February 8th, 2010
2:24 pm

J dubb all Diaz does is hit the freakin baseball, his fielding now that is another story. My grandmother could throw better tham damon, and she passed in 1981. Just remember Diaz is a hitting machine…

Dap01

February 8th, 2010
2:25 pm

Good article, I agree. Schafer needs time in AAA, Heyward needs time in AAA. The whole offensive lineup is better with Damon. Do you are correct, if putting the best team on the field is the goal, then we should sign Damon.

We could always trade away an outfielder in june or july.

GovClintonTyree

February 8th, 2010
2:26 pm

I’m sure Scotty, whose misreading of the market seems to be squeezing many of his clients, would like a second year to save face. I don’t see any reason not to give it to him. The only thing Damon doesn’t do well is throw. He’s fine in left, and could play center in a pinch (give McLouth a blow). So you deal Cabrera, Diaz gets at bats in both corners and you stretch out the lineup by leading off Johnny Damon.

A strong 1-8 trumps a strong 1-7….the less ABs Cabrera sees, the better. I’m in favor of 0. Versatility means he doesn’t play anything well enough to pencil him in 140 times and leave him there (did you know, incidentally, that JD has played more than 140 games a year for 14 consecutive years?).

Send Cabrera and his salary to some other club that loves his grit. I’d rather have McLouth, Damon and Heyward play 140 games each and let Diaz pick up the rest. And a vesting option might be a nice way to solve the second year question.

TCD

February 8th, 2010
2:29 pm

Johnny Damon throws like a girl!

Hollywould

February 8th, 2010
2:31 pm

Yeah, the key being 14 years played. Sucker cannot even bounce the ball to 2nd. Just roll it Johnny. If he was still good enough the Yankees would have spent the money to get him back. Braves do not have a 200 ft right field porch. The only time he hits homers is a breaking ball from a righthander that he golfs out.
Wake up people/ the Braves have plenty of outfielders/ let the young guys play. As far as playoff experience how many of the current Braves have that experience? Might surprise you.

Tucker T

February 8th, 2010
2:31 pm

If this team were owned by a person instead of a corporation, we would already have Damon on the roster. The Braves need to go the extra mile to try to win in Bobby’s last year and signing Damon is a nobrainer. Wren is probably not allowed to go over the payroll amount he has been given unless he can persuade the Powers That Be that signing Damon will increase attendance. That’s why teams should not be permitted to be owned by corporations. This is one that the NFL has gotten right.

NRBQ

February 8th, 2010
2:40 pm

J Dubb:

Schafer fractured his wrist the first series of ‘09.

TKO

February 8th, 2010
2:42 pm

Damon’s at bat in WS, Game 4 was classic, as was his taking 3rd base when it was uncovered. Lidge never had a chance, some guys Win and JD is one of those guys!

Dennis

February 8th, 2010
2:43 pm

Does anyone know what Damon’s (Boras’) asking price is as of now?

EW

February 8th, 2010
2:45 pm

I agree JS, but I am losing faith in this team to make a move like the one you’re suggesting.

Damon the Shaman

February 8th, 2010
2:48 pm

Sign says long haired freaky people need not apply….so I tucked my hair up under my hat and went in to ask them why…they said you look like a fine outstanding young man we think you do..so I took off my hat and said imagine that,me working for you……I DON’T THINK SO!

JMar

February 8th, 2010
2:49 pm

The more OFs that sign, the lower the price will go. If Jermaine Dye signs with the Tigers, as rumored, the Reds are about the only team left to compete with the Braves, and word is they’re even less inclined to part with the necessary cash than the Braves are.

J dubb

February 8th, 2010
2:56 pm

Dandy Don- I said I like Diaz too…but for some reason we haven’t seen him given the opprotunity to play every game all season. He’s always getting the platoon role.
NRBQ – I know Shafer fractured his wrist. But he didn’t tell anyone until he was at the end of the worst slump in his life. PROBABLY because he was a rookie and felt the pressure to NOT say anything. So thats kinda where i was coming from.
Put it this way….getting Damon couldn’t really hurt the team could it? Who the F*&# knows what Melky’s gonna bring to the table…

DeBrave

February 8th, 2010
2:58 pm

I just want to let all you bloggers know that you are all idiots..F-105 Thundercheif,Reid Adair,Dennis,Damon the Shaman,Tucker T,Dap01,AKT 163,TKO,J dubb.Get a life you fools!All you morons must be unemployed!

Hoops Dawg

February 8th, 2010
2:58 pm

The thing that worries me most about Damon is the weak arm (although neither Diaz nor GA had many outfield assists last year either) Still, I doubt that Damon would nail many tagging runners even on 200 foot fly balls to left. A three million dollar signing (which we can’t hope to get without huge bonuses for very achievable incentives) might seem quite worthwhile. One thing I do know is that JD will generate a lot more runs with his bat and baserunning than he will let in with his glove.

jmarable

February 8th, 2010
3:00 pm

Damon cant help this lineup much.We need some power/jermaine dye,jason bay]these guys r has been’s.They only put a band aid on a bullet wound.we need help in the outfield corners like yesterday,and im afraid its 2 late braves fans.should have gotten guys like wagner,and damon yrs ago.damon chipper and wagner r about ready to b analyst in the booth.not take a team to the playoffs.

Jack in Macon

February 8th, 2010
3:01 pm

If Schafer’s wrist is well, he will force himself into the Braves center field/leadoff position by the all-star break. The Braves will then move McLouth to LF and trade Diaz. With the Braves pitching they will be within 2 to 3 games behind the Phillies and the new lineup will give them the jolt they need to at least win the wildcard if not the division. Wait and See….
Signing Damon will be a mistake and the Braves will find themselves having to release him (and pay him) because his arm is so louzy and he will become a albatross around their neck. Get over this insane idea!!!!!!!.

Big B CH 99

February 8th, 2010
3:02 pm

The price ain’t go go down enough for the CHEAP Braves to do anything. I don’t think they’re allowed to go .000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% over budget.

hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

February 8th, 2010
3:03 pm

The reason the Braves only won one World Series is they believe in always being a needed player short as opposed to an extra player over. One closer, one hitter,etc. ….. it was always one guy away.

Damon is NOT the ONE player but he is an example of always siding on the short side instead of the extra side..

Poppies.....Poppies....I'll get you my pretty, and your little f*#@!$ dog too

February 8th, 2010
3:05 pm

Cheap a$$ Braves! Gosh….. we need a new owner. I know Franky Wren is going with his budget here, but he must have some pull to get us Damon. Go over the stinkin budget for once and FIELD US A WINNER!

Mike Jay

February 8th, 2010
3:11 pm

We don’t have a DH in the National League. So no thanks. Though for 3 million it might worth a shot. I tell you what, those that really want him should pledge to buy one extra $8 beer per visit to the Ted this year. Then we can play the how many $8 beers does it take to sign an over the hill power hitter?

Joe Simpson the Great

February 8th, 2010
3:17 pm

The signing of Johnny Damon would block Heyward from making the club. Heyward could be the big bat everyone says the Braves need. The only to fit Damon onto this roster would be to trade Melky.

Tucker T

February 8th, 2010
3:17 pm

Hoops Dawg

Damon’s arm can’t be any worse than Anderson’s. GA wouldn’t even try to throw a tagging runner out at the plate.

Braves Payroll

February 8th, 2010
3:18 pm

Jeff I need a specific answer from you… How much money do you “REALLY” think the Bravos have left in their payroll for 2010???

Braves Payroll

February 8th, 2010
3:24 pm

From what I have heard is may be as high as $7 MILLION. I think is is safe to say that we have at least $4 – $5 MILLION DOLLARS that we are sitting on for our payroll right now (after the Vasquez trade). This is taking into consideration the insurance money we got for Hudson’s injury time last year. I am tired of “uninformed” fans saying that we only have $1-2 Million to spend… that is not true. Just do the math!!!!!! Wren MUST NOT sit on this money until the trade deadline!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trade Melky

February 8th, 2010
3:29 pm

Like other people have posted, just trade that bag of baseballs (Melky) and sign Damon. It would improve our lineup and help the Braves have a shot at the playoffs. So what if he can’t throw farther than 20 ft without bouncing it, most of the argument against Damon by Braves fans is because of his weak arm, well how many times do you see plays at the plate from the outfield and moreover how many times does the runner get gunned down unless he makes a stupid baserunning mistake or just the outfielder has a cannon. There is a reason for a cutoff man, heck we have had Diaz out there for the same reason we would have Damon and noone gripes about that on a daily basis. At least Damon can get to most flyballs (which most of the time is an outfielders basic job) without making it look like it was sheer luck he got there to catch it. The whole problem from the Damon standpoint is that Wren doesnt want to look even more stupid by trading Melky away before he even plays for the Braves when he was the only major league player he got back for that horrible trade of Vasquez. Don’t worry about saving face, Wren, just bite the bullet and trade Melky to Kansas City or some other place and get Damon so at least we will have some kind of a leadoff man and a normal looking lineup.

KevinM

February 8th, 2010
3:29 pm

Damon has put up good numbers the past 3 years with over 500+ AB. He helps us on the offensive end, but can we justify another below average arm in the outfield?

That’s why Wren gets the big bucks. I gotta think he won’t come that cheap. All it takes is a Yankee injury in the outfield for them to be in the mix again. And how do we know he will be fine with NL pitching?

Braves Payroll

February 8th, 2010
3:30 pm

I think that TRUE BRAVES FANS believe that MELKY……. MUST be TRADED!

rich mckay

February 8th, 2010
3:34 pm

Braves Payroll-
Its not a question of how much left, its how much they will spend. I say none.

This is pathetic. Remember when we laughed at the Pirates in the Mclouth trade…did we not just do the same thing with Vazquez. Actually, they may have made the better deal because they replaced Mclouth with a farm system player, who is probably better than Nate.

jon

February 8th, 2010
3:37 pm

What makes you think he wants to play in the National League? I will tell you this, if the money is the same between the Braves and tigers, he will definitly go to the Tigers. He won’t have to re adjust to new pitchers.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 8th, 2010
3:37 pm

I will take 3 AB a game from Damon and then put in a Defensive Sub in the 8th to get his production out of the leadoff spot. Also LF is historically filled with lackluster defensive guys, Manny Pat Burrell,Piere, so lets not be overly critical here.

paul

February 8th, 2010
3:39 pm

I want to rent the Billboard next to Turner field that says, “Liberty Media is a facade for ‘we don’t care about the Braves’”

Branch Rickey

February 8th, 2010
3:53 pm

WHAT IN THE HELL DOES MATT DIAZ HAVE TO DO KEEP A STARTING JOB IN THIS FREAKIN TOWN ! JOHNNY DAMON WILL DO NOTHING AT TURNER FIELD EXCEPT HIT FLY BALLS !

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