If the report of Ken Davidoff of Newsday is to be believed then the Bronx Bombers are in the mist of finalizing a one year deal worth $5.5 million with former first-baseman Nick Johnson.
Johnson would serve as the teams primarily designated hitter and would spell Mark Teixeira when he needs his monthly personality check.
The 31-year-old Johnson finished with a .291/.426/.405 batt ing line in 2009 with eight homers and 62 RBI in 457 at-bats while splitting time between Washington and Florida.
It was suspected earlier in the week that the Yankees were pursuing Johnson in an attempt to get Johnny Damon and agent Scott Boras to back down from demands of $11-$13 million per season in a three year deal.
Now the Johnson signing may end the chances of Damon returning to the Yankees.
Personally I’m not 100% convinced that Damon doesn’t return, or the Yankees don’t at least sign another option at left field. The Yankees are one of a very few number of teams that could afford to pay Johnson to sit on the bench most of the season.
Currently without Damon the Yankees outfield features Melky Cabera in left field who despite 68 RBI last season hit just .274/.336/.416 in 485 at-bats.
Damon on the other hand finished the 2009 season with a .282/.365/.489 line including 24 homers and 82 RBI.
As much as the on base percentage of Johnson was touted as the highest among free agents, it’s worth noting that Johnson’s career high in homers is 23 coming back in 2006, and he hit just 8 last season. Plus Johnson comes with a laundry list of injury concerns and offers little flexibility for manager Joe Girardi.
Had the Yankees been able to sign Damon, they would of been able to move him to left field on days that Jorge Posada needed off or they could of rotated him around the outfield in-case of injury. With Johnson there will be none of that. Johnson can play one position and there’s little reason to replace the player at the position at any time.
Even with the Yankees saying they are cutting payroll I find it hard to believe they will enter the season without another option in left field and with Brent Gardner as the only other true option to play outfield on the club. After-all this is the Yankees and you can never trust anything they say publicly.