There is apparently an opportunity for the Mariners here. As I wrote on FanGraphs today, there are a lot of similarities between Damon this year and Bobby Abreu a year ago. We all saw how the Abreu contract worked out for the Angels, and something like a 1 year, $5 million deal for Damon may be a similarly good idea for the M’s.
Damon is still a good player. He hits for average, draws walks, makes contact, and has some power. Sure, New Yankee Stadium helped him quite a bit last year, but Safeco is designed to help the same type of hitter, and he would find the right field porch in Seattle just as inviting. He’s a good enough defender to handle LF at Safeco, even as his range declines – there’s little evidence that he’s much worse than below average defensively at this point, and that includes his hilariously bad arm. The glove doesn’t even come close to canceling out the value he creates at the plate.
Given regular playing time, Damon should be a +2 to +3 win player, and the Mariners have playing time to offer him. Sure, it’s not ideal to add yet another LH hitter to the LF/DH mix, but Damon doesn’t need to be platooned, so you don’t have to replace Langerhans with a right-handed hitting outfielder in order to make it work (though you could if you wanted to). And you don’t walk away from a bargain just because it’s not ideal. If the M’s can really get Damon for $5M-ish, they won’t find a more cost effective way to upgrade the team in free agency.
I think if Damon could have been had for $5 million, he already would have been. I mean, the clubs are a bit tighter with the dollar than they've been, but Damon's performance last season isn't exactly a secret around the league. And if there was a singular moment during the postseason, it belonged to him (and you've actually got your choice of two moments).
So, yeah: If the Mariners can sign Damon for $5 million they should do it, even if they've not a crying need for a lefty-hitting LF/DH sort. I'm just not yet convinced that he'll come that cheap.