Saturday, February 20, 2010
Updated: February 21, 8:21 PM ET
Source: Johnny Damon, Tigers agree
ESPN.com news services
Johnny Damon has agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, pending a physical, a league source told ESPN's Karl Ravech.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski would only acknowledge Sunday that "significant progress" is being made in negotiations with Damon.
As Scott Boras negotiated for Damon in recent weeks, many of the offers he received included deferred money, which would have reduced the present-day value of the offer. A source tells ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that none of the $8 million the Tigers will pay Damon is deferred.
The 36-year-old Damon hit .286 with 24 homers for the New York Yankees last season. He likely would bat leadoff for the Tigers, filling the void left when Detroit dealt Curtis Granderson to the Yankees.
Damon also gives Detroit a left-handed bat it needs and a veteran in the outfield, where his savvy is an asset and his arm a liability.
Among the other teams that had expressed serious interest in Damon were the White Sox, Rays and Braves. The White Sox withdrew their offer Friday, a decision first reported by ESPNChicago.com.
Damon helped the Yankees win the World Series for the first time since 2000, hitting .282 with 23 homers and 82 RBIs, but he was coming off a $52 million, four-year contract.
While he initially wanted a long-term deal at the same average salary, New York valued the 36-year-old at far less. The Yankees kept reducing their offer, claiming payroll constraints.
They now have no place for Damon after acquiring Granderson, signing free-agent outfielders Randy Winn and Marcus Thames and signing designated hitter Nick Johnson to become their No. 2 hitter.
"I'm happy for him that he's found out where he's going to go," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Sunday. "I think for players that's an anxious time. Trying to figure out where you're going to be. Usually it doesn't go on this long. I wish Johnny luck. Johnny was good for us here. We all miss Johnny. This is the hard part of the game when those relationships change a little bit. I'll root for Johnny except when he's playing against us."
Dombrowski said Damon wasn't in the team's plans as late as January. But Damon came into the picture after the Tigers dealt Granderson, then allowed Placido Polanco to walk away via free agency.
"We needed to make some adjustments," Dombrowski said. "We aren't doing it only for this year, but we also needed to move forward. The moves we made earlier in the year allowed us to make some adjustments, not only for now but also for the future. We also brought in some young talent."
LHP Bobby Seay is expected to be out for at least three days with shoulder bursitis, Tigers trainer Kevin Rand said. The injury isn't expected to be serious. ... Former Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers will report to camp on March 2 to work with pitchers on fielding and pickoffs. Rogers won 29 games for the Tigers between 2006-08. ... C Gerald Laird arrived in camp Sunday morning after flying all night from Los Angeles, where he attended the wedding of his sister. Laird went straight from the airport to the ballpark, where he caught Justin Verlander in the bullpen for 15 minutes. ... OF Magglio Ordonez arrived on Sunday and shagged fly balls. He's been working out on a bike all winter and said he feels more flexible and quicker than ever in his career. "Magglio looks like a totally different player," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Karl Ravech is a baseball analyst for ESPN. Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.