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02/12/10 7:42 PM EST
Damon in no rush to sign deal
As suitors roll in, free agent vacationing in Hawaii
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
Johnny Damon, at last check, was vacationing in Hawaii, among the palm trees and the beach scene. It's a place where a man can get some thinking done, and it appears several teams have given Damon plenty to think about.
The Damon signing soap opera, which has dragged out all winter, appears to be winding to a close here in the waning days before Spring Training camps open in Florida and Arizona. But while the activity on Damon heated up this past week, it doesn't appear as though he'll sign his name on the dotted line until next week.
What we know is that the Tigers, Braves and White Sox are all in on Damon, to some degree, but the extent of that courtship seems to differ from club to club.
The Tigers seem to be the favorites to land Damon, the 36-year-old left fielder who was last seen winning a World Series crown with the Yankees. The Tigers have their eyes on Damon as a potential leadoff hitter who would likely allow rookie center fielder Austin Jackson to move down in the order. Damon would also bump Carlos Guillen into DH duties.
FOXSports.com, citing Major League sources, reported Thursday that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has authorized a two-year, $14 million offer to Damon. The Tigers also reportedly offered Damon a one-year, $7 million deal.
If reports are accurate, either of those offers would be the best on the table to Damon.
The Braves, meanwhile, have reportedly made Damon a one-year offer to take over their leadoff duties. MLB.com, citing a Major League source, reported the contract's total value at less than $4 million, including deferred money.
The Tigers and Braves have not confirmed reports of their offers to Damon.
One draw the Braves possess is their proximity to Damon's Orlando home. Their training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., is mere minutes from his house. Of course, the Tigers' Spring Training complex in Lakeland is a pretty short commute, as well. The White Sox, who train in Arizona, also have jumped into the Damon sweepstakes.
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams has mentioned to reporters several times that his team is essentially at its 2010 spending limit. MLB.com speculated that the club might have somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million to spend on Damon.
Damon's agent, Scott Boras, was reportedly seeking a two-year, $20 million commitment for his client this winter. The Yankees, who were Damon's first choice, balked at such a figure, and the two sides parted ways after four years together in the Bronx.
Since then, the activity on Damon has been rather quiet, until this past week. Though he batted .282 with a career-high-tying 24 home runs for the world champs last year, Damon, a 15-year veteran, has found some clubs to be cool to the concept of bringing in an aging outfielder on a multiyear deal.