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.