If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That must be the philosophy of the Cleveland Indians front office since they finally landed a veteran bat to help out in their beleaguered outfield. After an aborted trade for Bobby Abreu just before the season, Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti has finally settled on Johnny Damon as his left-handed outfielder/DH type.
Source: Damon deal with #Indians will include out clause that will allow him to depart on specified date after Grady Sizemore returns.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 12, 2012
Financial details aren’t yet available but this looks to be a very friendly deal for all parties. The Indians get their platoon partner for Shelley Duncan in left field, not to mention a veteran insurance policy at DH if/when Travis Hafner gets hurt. Damon gets a regular gig for what appears to be at least two months at which point he can jump ship if Grady Sizemore is healthy, thus relegating Damon to a bench role that he clearly has no interest in.
This isn’t quite the full-time job that Damon was hoping for, but for a 38-year old defensive liability coming off a .261/.326/.418 season it isn’t half bad. In fact, it may end up making Damon look pretty good since he posted a sOPS+ of 92 against left-handed pitching last season compared to 147 against righties. In fact, if he can continue that success against righties this season, he could well parlay that into a similar role for another season or two, giving him an outside shot at reaching 3,000 hits (Damon currently has 2,723 career hits).
That is assuming this all goes through. While Rosenthal’s report makes this sound like a very done deal, Jon Heyman claims it is not yet finalized. Seeing how Heyman is a noted mouthpiece of Scott Boras, the agent for Damon, he might know a thing or two. If this does end up falling through, Cleveland is going to have to go back to the drawing board once again to solve their outfield depth problem, only there won’t be any obvious alternatives this time around.