What the DeRosa signing means for Damon

It was rumored that Damon was seeking a three-year deal with an AAV of $13 million. Welcome to Damon’s Alternate Reality. Then came the Granderson trade, the Nick Johnson rumors and ultimate signing and finally the trade of Melky Cabrera. [Needless to say, we’re still big fans of Brett Gardner as you can read here, and here, and here.]

I wrote a bit about Damon and the budget last week and most of the thoughts remain intact:

  • He sure is a very good player. However, if I were part of another team, I’d look at his 2009 home/road splits and notice that his power spike was largely due to the new Yankee Stadium, particularly early in the season. There might be some team who thinks Damon’s skills will translate to their team, but I think it’s going to be a stretch, particularly for any team with a spacious LF. But as the old saying goes: “All it takes is one (idiot)
  • Damon + Boras = It’s About The Money, Stupid. Now, if Damon truly wants to remain in pinstripes, he needs to take control of this runaway train himself and instruct Boras to get him back on the Yanks. The window remains cracked open, but barely. It might be closed by the end of the week (or next).

Here’s the thing: if you take those two bullet points above and mash ‘em together, you have a situation that needs to come to a conclusion, and quickly. If Damon really wants to remain in NY as part of a team with the ability to defend a World Series title, Damon needs to realize the market is not what he had hoped and make a deal that works. If it’s a ‘measely’ one-year, $6 million deal with incentives (including an easily achievable player option for 2011), so be it. Andy Pettitte tucked his tail between his legs last year to return to the Yanks. It worked out just fine, thank you very much.

However, if Damon and Boras continue to look for a three-year deal in excess of $30 million, I don’t see a team out there willing to pony up for a player of Damon’s age, defensive liabilities and home-park favored stats. Some stats on Damon’s home/road, 1H/2H splits:

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB ROE BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
Home 73 68 318 272 56 76 18 0 17 42 6 0 43 44 .279 .382 .533 .915 145 3 2 1 0 1 5 .280 114 136
Away 70 65 308 278 51 79 18 3 7 40 6 0 28 54 .284 .349 .446 .795 124 6 0 1 1 0 3 .330 87 117
Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB ROE BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
1H 81 75 357 312 62 86 19 3 16 50 8 0 41 61 .276 .362 .510 .872 159 5 2 1 1 0 5 .297 103 131
2H 62 58 269 238 45 69 17 0 8 32 4 0 30 37 .290 .369 .462 .832 110 4 0 1 0 1 3 .316 96 121

The home/road splits got me wondering what Damon’s 2009 would have looked like if he played all of his games in two of the locations who *might* be interested in signing Damon. So I asked home run guru Greg Rybarczyk of HitTrackeronline.com what Damon’s year would have looked like if he played in San Francisco or St. Louis. I chose these two before the DeRosa signing, so the San Fran proxy might not have much value any longer. Greg’s analysis:

Well, looks like 13 of his 24 homers would have made it out of AT&T Park, and 18 of 24 out of Busch Stadium. Not likely that either of those two parks would have turned any of his flyouts at Yankee Stadium into homers, so those numbers are probably good for estimates on Damon’s HR power in those parks.

Guessing that teams are estimating that Damon will NOT poke 24 home runs again, as 17 of them came in Yankee Stadium. If you haircut Damon’s power potential in most other parks to something closer to 15 home runs, why on Earth would a team besides the Yanks want to pay him more than Mark DeRosa or Mike Cameron. All three are great character guys, by all accounts. Cameron brings better defense and power, DeRosa brings flexibility and comparable power and Damon brings better speed. All are about the same age.

Add that up and Damon has no basis to expect a contract any better than either of these two guys. That pegs his market value somewhere between the $6 – $8 million dollar range per year. And that’s only if a team is willing to take on Damon and Boras.

What needs to happen, if Damon wants to wear pinstripes, is that Damon needs to take on Boras and take control of his situation. Sign with the Yanks if that’s where you want to play. The clock is ticking and the offers are not going to suddenly improve. The best offer/deal might be right now.

And it might even be too late.

UPDATE (12/29/09, 9:50am): Some additional details on the Yanks interest in DeRosa:

The Yankees say they are serious about bringing in their 2010 payroll under last year’s opening-day figure of roughly $201 million. They have about $198 million committed for next season already, meaning that they’d need to go low-budget for a left fielder to stay true to their payroll intention.

[…]

The Yankees viewed DeRosa, who turns 35 in February, as someone who could start in left field as well as sub in the infield when Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano or Derek Jeter needed a day off. Even if they had signed DeRosa, the Yankee official said, they would likely have brought in another outfielder, too.

Terms were not made public but a baseball official said DeRosa was looking for a three-year contract worth $6 million per year and that the Giants had offered $12 million for two years. The Yankees, that official said, would not pay him $6 million per year for two years.

IIATMS overlord and founder. ESPN contributor. Purveyor of luscious reality.