Braves make right move with pitch to Johnny Damon

Johnny Damon thinks the Braves would be a good fit, and it's clear now the feel is mutual.

Johnny Damon believes the Braves would be a good fit, and it's clear now the feel is mutual. (AP photo)

I come not to bash Frank Wren but to applaud his efforts.

After an offseason that has done little to stir the masses — unless you count angry torch-carrying villagers — Wren has taken a significant step toward improving the Braves’ roster, just nine days before the start of spring training. The general manager has made a pretty significant offer to free agent Johnny Damon, according to our David O’Brien. That basically means Wren sees the same thing that so many of us see: 1.) Damon, even at 36, could be a valuable asset to the Braves; 2) The team has a void in the lineup at leadoff.

I’ve been banging the drum for Damon for weeks. I addressed it nearly three weeks ago and even put up a poll, asking for your thoughts (results: 78 percent said sign him). Then I brought it up again Monday after there were indications Wren might be interested but was waiting for Damon’s price to drop.

Now comes O’Brien’s exclusive: Wren has offered a one-year deal for at least $5 million, probably with some deferred money. He also reportedly had Chipper Jones make a recruiting call to Damon. Folks, recruiting calls don’t happen unless a team really wants somebody.

Jones told DOB: “Bringing Johnny certainly gives us an abundance of outfielders, and could take playing time away from someone else deserving. That’s probably the negative. The positive is that it gives us a pretty legit leadoff hitter who has some experience. It would make us a deeper team. I don’t know — you can’t beat having that experience in your clubhouse and on your team, on the field, and somewhere at top of your lineup.”

And about the abundance of outfielders Jones spoke of:  Keep Matt Diaz and trade Melky Cabrera, unless there’s a chance that neither Jason Heyward nor Jordan Schafer are going to make the team out of spring training.

For what it’s worth, this still doesn’t mean the deal is going to get done. Agent Scott Boras says he wants a two-year deal. But unless such an offer came from a contender, he knows Damon would be better off here. Because with Damon, the Braves’ lineup potentially gets a whole lot better and they’re a legitimate post-season threat.

204 comments Add your comment

BuzztheKiller

February 10th, 2010
3:01 pm

Come on to Atlanta Johnny! Lineup potentially just got much better.

Reid Adair

February 10th, 2010
3:02 pm

Why wouldn’t Chipper and the rest of the team want Johnny Damon? None of Frank Wren’s off-season moves have brought in a significant, every-day starter for the lineup. This is probably the only chance.

Chris Bleakley

February 10th, 2010
3:02 pm

Damon would absolutely make tyhe Braves a better team right away. And by the way…I think I’m First!!

matt_t

February 10th, 2010
3:02 pm

At this point the only team that could realistically beat out the Braves is the Tigers.

Atlanta has a better chance of making the playoffs if that’s what Damon wants. It’s a fit for him and Atlanta.

Chris Bleakley

February 10th, 2010
3:03 pm

BuzztheKiller

February 10th, 2010
3:04 pm

What does DOB say about the Braves potentially adding a year to the offer? If Damon is good for one year, why not two? Of course, Hayward should be installed permantly in right by then.

matt_t

February 10th, 2010
3:08 pm

@Buzz,
Because no other team has offered 2 years, why guarantee a 2nd year if you don’t have to.

McCann Fan

February 10th, 2010
3:09 pm

Damon wants to play here and we want him here. Please get this done Wren!

My only concern is that Johnny Damon’s beard does not want to play in Atlanta. It’s pretty hot here in the summer.

MCook

February 10th, 2010
3:10 pm

I’d love it. Also he would definately sell tickets. It’s a win win…

Bravefan

February 10th, 2010
3:11 pm

Come on Braves, Damon would be a great asset to the team. With Damon, Mclouth could move down and use his power potential for RBI’s, Along with Chipper bouncing back and Troy bouncing back, could possibly be a very dynamic offense.

Opinion

February 10th, 2010
3:14 pm

This would definitely make us better for this year and give us a chance to avoid early arbitration for Heyward which is a must…knowing our financial situation.

RS

February 10th, 2010
3:16 pm

Of course its the right move, which is why this team probably won’t get the deal done!!!!

groundfog

February 10th, 2010
3:16 pm

This could bring some pr buzz also to our team,along with the intangibles. Nate Mcclouth would benefit imo

F-105 Thunderchief

February 10th, 2010
3:17 pm

This has a distinctly Ken Griffey Jr. smell to it. Probably ain’t happening. He’ll go to Detroit for more money.

Atlanta Nole

February 10th, 2010
3:17 pm

The trade for Cabrera will make even less sense with Damon on the team. I think the Braves should bring him on board but I hope Wren lays off the juice that made him ship Vaquez to the Yanks. What can they get for Cabrera?

BuzztheKiller

February 10th, 2010
3:18 pm

I agree Matt, just thinking if it was possible in case that is what it comes down to between the Braves and the Tigers. Boras is probably blowing smoke as usual though.

The Grinch

February 10th, 2010
3:21 pm

I approve. Sign the contract, Johnny. We need you.

Jim

February 10th, 2010
3:25 pm

I can’t wait to watch Damon pick up a ball at the base of the wall and (with all his might) try and throw out a runner rounding 3rd just to watch it one-hop Esco in the outfield grass.

PMC

February 10th, 2010
3:26 pm

Damon definately gives them more options. He makes them deeper and he can leadoff. That means you could let McClouth hit 2nd in the lineup some.

This can only be a good move. You still have options with Schaffer in Center if you need to bring him up soon.

Toots

February 10th, 2010
3:27 pm

I love it when Chipper uses big words like “abundance”. Think about it, he could have said, “a lot” but he didn’t. Way to go, Chipper!

PMC

February 10th, 2010
3:27 pm

All this said, if it doesn’t go down… it’s not the end of the world either.

Thirty Points to your Twenty-Four Points

February 10th, 2010
3:27 pm

HEY SCHULTZ!!!!!!!

{{{{{30-24}}}}}

Admit it hurts!!!!!!!

SamN

February 10th, 2010
3:29 pm

Glad to see the Braves FINALLY addressing the lead-off spot. McClouth’s a great player, but should be hitting a bit lower in the order. Damon, while not having the same speed as his early years, knows the mentality of being number 1 at the plate. His offense and being a two-time world champ will pay the Braves dividends. I think Chipper and Glaus are the only veterans left to have been in the World Series.

Rico Carty

February 10th, 2010
3:29 pm

If the price is right it would be a good move although I’m sure Mr. Bora$ will see that he gets paid. Doubt he can put up the same power numbers at Turner. I’d rather turn the kids loose in the outfield than overpay for Damon.

Jeff Schultz

February 10th, 2010
3:30 pm

BuzzTheKiller — I doubt Wren would go two years.

Jeff Schultz

February 10th, 2010
3:30 pm

McCannFan — I have a beard. I tough it out. So can he.

Bobby Cox

February 10th, 2010
3:31 pm

COME ON KID! Negative- weak arm, but a solid leadoff hitter with solid playoff/WS experience. Also rumored to have high interest in Detroit or the Rays. Will see….

Jeff Schultz

February 10th, 2010
3:31 pm

F-105: Difference from Griffey situation is he was going back to team he started with.

25% or $2.5 Mil

February 10th, 2010
3:32 pm

The Braves will conveniently come 25% or $2.5 million short. Count on it. They intentionally do this time and again so that they can pretend they’ve made a competitive offer to placate the masses when in reality they know that offer would never close the deal. Go through the last 10 years, and count how many times they conveniently came approximately 25% or $2.5 million short, and failed to close the deal

Jeff Schultz

February 10th, 2010
3:32 pm

Toots — Yeah, well. “The Kid” is all about the syllables.

PMC

February 10th, 2010
3:33 pm

At the very least you would be bringing in a very interesting player who is a professional hitter. One more guy in the lineup you have to be careful pitching too. When they have been youth heavy often times they have been easy outs. Damon at the very least would be a tougher out. We need a lot more of those type of guys with good plate dicipline.

PMC

February 10th, 2010
3:34 pm

Damon would just have to roll out of bed and walk over to Spring Training too. That has to be a positive.

Bob Horner stayed hurt

February 10th, 2010
3:35 pm

I’m with PMC….if we can acquire Damon that only helps..but it’s not the end of the world if we don’t…..I think the key to the season are Glaus and Chipper…can those guys put up big numbers and stay healthy….???

Hollywould

February 10th, 2010
3:37 pm

Let the kids play. When I watch this guy throw it makes me sick. .285 hitter last year in the AL/ that will go down in the NL. Homers drop to 5 as he doesn’t have a little league right field to hit in. Not a good move.

sam

February 10th, 2010
3:39 pm

sign Damon..we could use his speed in the lineup and that strong throwing arm in the outfield (chuckle, chuckle)

jimmy

February 10th, 2010
3:43 pm

accident insurance should go down he won’t hurt any body with a thrown ball

Felix Millan

February 10th, 2010
3:43 pm

He hit 17 of the 24 at home last year.

Hollywould

February 10th, 2010
3:47 pm

Jeff, One other thing. if he is so valuable why are the Yanks staying away? Just sayin

sam

February 10th, 2010
3:48 pm

i heard steve balboni is available too….

Jeff Schultz

February 10th, 2010
3:49 pm

PMC — Yes, for those who don’t know, Damon lives in Orlando. I’m sure that’s a plus.

Da'Rick Rogers

February 10th, 2010
3:50 pm

He can’t cover me.

Jeff Schultz

February 10th, 2010
3:51 pm

Hollywould. Two things: 1) Negotiations with Yankees were different. Damon started too high, Yankees eventually said forget it and moved on; 2) Damon is more valuable to Braves than Yankees because they’re more desperate for a leadoff hitter and have a weaker lineup.

The Whopper

February 10th, 2010
3:53 pm

Every year there is some story about a free agent being lured ot the ATL by the legend Bobby Cox and every year they end up going somewhere else. Why would this be any different?

McCann Fan

February 10th, 2010
3:58 pm

Schultz,

If your beard can handle the Atlanta summer heat then Damon’s beard can certainly do the same. Thanks for the reassurance.

Maybe the Braves should have had your beard contact his instead of Chipper. Sure Chipper is a great player, but all he sports is a little patch under his lip.

akbar zeb

February 10th, 2010
3:58 pm

Team MVP will definitely be on the medical staff

DP

February 10th, 2010
4:05 pm

Any chance that Damon could play some first base? He could be option B at first if Glaus gets hurt or is washed up, or just to give him the occasional day off. If Glaus is productive, he could fill in at 3rd for the 30-40 games Chipper figures to miss with injuries and Damon could take his spot at first. Putting Damon at first part of the time would also make his rag arm less of a liability than it is in left field.

If Damon could play 50-60 games at first and the rest in left, it would also create more playing time in the outfield for Diaz and Cabrera.

If the idea behind getting Damon is to give the Braves an excuse for keeping Heyward at AAA until June to move his salary escalation and future free agency a year down the line I hope he gets a better offer elsewhere.

Jesse Stone

February 10th, 2010
4:05 pm

Damon had a great year last year, so did Javy. Some praise Wren for knowing when to get rid of Javy. We are now offering money to a player that will not repeat last year’s performance. I too would rather see the kids play. Those HR’s that he hit last year will turn into fly balls to right field this year. Are there any other players the Yankees don’t want? We have one and just offered a contract to the second. Is Hideki Irabu available?

jfreak13713

February 10th, 2010
4:06 pm

Damon hit well in a very small park in New York but to think he will put up those kinds of numbers here is silly! I’m all for signing they guy do don’t get me wrong, but I don’t believe he is a game changer other than he will allow others guys to hit in their proper place in the lineup.

Damon 2010 (if Atlanta) .279 AVG. 11 HR. 64 RBI — Good numbers, not great.

Come on Johnny give the ATL a chance??

NUGHT

February 10th, 2010
4:08 pm

his numbers would drop in ATL. But his bat from the leadoff spot not only would be an improvement for the Braves, it would also help others in the lineup by letting them hit in other spots in the line up… also with our payroll restrictions I think its a good idea to delay heyward to after may so that we get an extra year out of him at least. SIGN THE CONTRACT JOHNNY

Clay

February 10th, 2010
4:09 pm

If Chipper wants Damon so badly, take a $3M cut this year so Wren can offer him $8M. Come on, Hoss!