Indians Close to Signing Johnny Damon

Johnny Damon.


Nothing's official yet, but with Damon himself confirming the deal, let's assume that it's going to happen.

Damon has even answered playing time questions already:

Damon noted that the Indians have indeed offered him a role in left field.

"That's what Cleveland has offered me," he said. "I need to go out there and show people I can still play there. Right now, Shelley Duncan is the starting left fielder. I know they are going to rotate me in and give him a breather but, you know, I also understand this game, too. If Shelley Duncan is on fire at the plate, he's going to play. And if I am, they are going to find a place for me.

However, one of the interesting aspects to the deal that's almost signed is a combination of a no-trade clause and an out-clause that would be tied to Sizemore being activated from the Disabled List. I can't remember a major-league contract ever containing a clause like this, especially one that's tied to another player's health. So if both these clauses are included, the Indians not only cannot keep him around as a fourth outfielder, they can't get anything for him if they would wish to trade him.

Adding Damon's bat is a good move. As Tampa's DH last year, he hit .261/.326/.418, which was good for a 110 OPS+. But with the Indians, Damon will be a left fielder, and a defensive liability. Teams will run at will on his arm, but that's always been the case. Another concern is whether he can actually play the position on an everyday basis; he hasn't logged more than 40 games in the outfield in a season since 2009.

If the Indians do sign Damon, then that probably means Aaron Cunningham is gone (he's out of options), though that would mean the Indians would be without a true backup in center field. They could also opt to keep Cunningham and go with six relievers for the time being.

UPDATE: Jon Heyman says that the deal would be $1.25M plus up to $1.4M in bonuses, and also that the contract is complete.

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