Tigers Talking with Damon


Geez, it’s like the Winter Meetings all over again.

On the heels of agreeing to a contract with closer Jose Valverde, the Tigers are now reportedly engaged in talks with Johnny Damon and his agent Scott Boras. From MLB.com‘s Jason Beck:

"The pending arrival of Valverde had barely settled in when SI.com’s Jon Heyman suggested via Twitter that the Tigers could be “in play” for Damon, then said on MLB Network that the two sides are talking."

The question in most fans minds right now has got to be one asking where all this money is all of a sudden coming from. The national media had painted the trade of Granderson and Jackson as a sign of surrender. The words “fire sale” were thrown about frequently. But as MLive‘s Scott Warheit pointed out, those words didn’t come from Jim Leyland nor Dave Dombrowski. Perhaps, as Warheit mentions, the Tigers knew what they had in Granderson and Jackson, and saw an opportunity to “sell high” and maximize their return. More from Warheit:

"What the signing of Jose Valverde, and the interest the Tigers are showing in Johnny Damon tells me, is that the trade of Granderson, and all the other moves the Tigers have made this offseason were never about the money.  Dombrowski just was not as sold on Curtis Granderson, the baseball player, as most Detroit fans were. So, he sold high, received a lot in return and started to rebuild his team."

After my initial outrage over the signing of Valverde subsided, I began to recall thinking much the same thing that Warheit says here. When the trade went down, this is what I had to say:

"We all know of Grandy’s “quad 20? season of 2007, but since then he has taken a major step backward at the plate.  Look, I love Granderson, but the guy really struggles against lefties.  I think he has the talent to yet become the complete player that he should be, maybe a change of scenery will help.  Well, that and the very short porch in right field in New York.As for the Tigers, Dave Dombrowski did better than I think most people will give him credit for here.  He traded an erratic pitcher who has had only one great half of a season in his career and a centerfielder who really can only hit righties for four very talented, young, major league ready pieces."

That’s not to say that I am suddenly on board with Dombrowski’s tossing of money at Valverde, but if there really is enough cash to still augment the offense, the signing of Valverde looks better. Adding a left handed bat in Damon, one that can hit for extra bases and can bat at the top of the lineup is almost exactly what this lineup needs. If Damon were a middle infielder I would like it more, but having Damon, Carlos Guillen, and Magglio Ordonez rotating the corner outfield and DH spots would, in theory, allow all of them to stay fresher and healthier throughout the season. That’s important because Maggs and Damon are not young, and Guillen body is about 10 years older than his age.

I’ll remind you, if only because I need to remind myself, that the season is still a long ways off, and there is time to assemble the finished project. The addition of Valverde, and possibly Damon, would mean that one or two players will have to be removed from the roster. It’s my hope that Dombrowski has talks in the works for trading someone instead of losing those players to waiver claims. If he could move Bobby Seay, for example, he would free up the $2-3 MM Seay will likely earn next year, which would go a long way towards softening the blow of Valverde (and Damon) on the payroll.