After the New York Yankees won their 27th World Championship in November, much uncertainty loomed among soon to be Yankee free agents. The Yankees free agent class included notable pitcher, Andy Pettitte, and left handed sluggers, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. Yankees GM, Brian Cashman announced that the team would focus primarily on pitching before addressing the offense. Soon there after, The Yankees re-signed Andy Pettitte to a one year contract. So what would happen with Matsui and Damon? Matsui(37) and Damon(36) have each been essential offensive pieces for the Yankees the past few season. Knowing that the free-agent market wasn’t great this off season, Matsui quickly signed a 1 year, 6.5 million dollar contracted with the Los Angeles Angels. After the Matsui departure, The Yankees made a series of moves including trades for 28 year old, Detroit Tigers Center Fielder, Curtis Granderson and 33 year old, Atlanta Braves Starting Pitcher, Javier Vazquez. To fill the Matsui vacancy at Designated Hitter, the Yankees signed Washington Nationals First Baseman, Nick Johnson to a 1 year, 5.5 million dollar contract…

So where does Johnny Damon fit into this equation? After the World Series ended, ‘super agent’ Scott Boras claimed that the Yankees should re-up Damon’s past contract(4 years, 52 million) at the same market price. Even though Damon was coming off a career year of 24 HRs, 82 RBIs, and 107 runs, many sources around baseball believed his inflated numbers were a product of Yankee Stadium’s friendly dimensions. Damon was also aided by hitting in between MVP candidates, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. ┬áDamon is also notorious for a poor outfield throwing arm and disastrous UZR(Universal Zone Rating) of -15.2 Runs allowed.

While there has been much speculation between the Damon party and the Yankees, financial differences have caused a bitter divorce. While negotiating with Nick Johnson, Johnny Damon came to the club asking for a shorter deal (2 years) but at the same market level(26 million). The Yankees countered by offering Damon 2 years, 14 million. Damon balked at the offer and asked for 2 years, 20 million. The Yankees said no and signed On-Base specialist and Ex-Yankee farm hand, Nick Johnson. Johnson was third in the National League last season with a .426 On-base percentage. Slotting Johnson in Damon’s #2 should provide copious amounts of RBI opportunities for Teixeira and Rodriguez.

With Johnson occupying Matsui’s vacant DH slot, LF remained opened. After Melky Cabrera was traded to the Braves in exchange for Javier Vazquez, Brett Gardner and Rule 5 draft pick, Jamie Hoffman were the only two players on the Yankees active roster who could play left field. Damon and Scott Boras apparently made attempts to contact the Yankees about a contract. GM Brian Cashman told both Damon and Boras that he was working under a hard budget and only had $2 million left for free agents. At this point, the negotiations between Damon and the Yankees began extremely foggy. The Yankees apparently offered Damon a 1 year contract worth $6 million, but never received an answer. GM Brian Cashman was prepared to ask for a budget extension from the Steinbrenner family in order to ink Damon. Cashman never got to that point. The Yankees signed 36 year old free agent outfielder, Randy Winn to a $2 million deal for this season. Winn gives the Yankees good versatility at all outfield positions at a low cost. Brett Gardner will assume the LF duties heading into Spring Training.

I can say with 99% certainty that Johnny Damon’s tenure with the Yankees is over. Damon priced himself out of the Yankees budget. With many teams cutting salary and the over abundance of outfielders this off season, older players won’t be receiving pay increases. Looking back two months ago, making $7 million and hitting in between Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira isn’t so bad for a 36 year old outfielder with a horrible arm and limited remaining years. With only one week to go before Spring Training, Damon is team-less. Maybe he can find a nice place in Detroit.