A version of this post appeared on the blog for about four minutes on Wednesday, then the Randy Winn news broke and it became clear we would be talking about Johnny Damon, but not in this format.
Now that it’s clear the Yankees have moved on — and now that Winn has been discussed at length — where will Damon end up? New teams seem to be added to the mix all the time. The A’s were mentioned this weekend. The Rays were rumored on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Blue Jays admitted to internal discussions.
Here’s a list of all 30 teams. How many have an opening, and how many make no sense whatsoever? How many teams could get into the bidding if the price drops low enough? The field is fairly small.
Rumored targets (7)
Aside from the Yankees, seven teams have gotten most of the offseason attention in connection to Damon.
Atlanta Braves — The Damon-to-Atlanta rumors have been quiet for a while now, but the Braves still don’t have an obvious lead-off hitter, which is a running theme among these rumored teams.
Cincinnati Reds — No longer seems likely now that the Reds GM has said he doesn’t expect to sign Damon. Young Chris Dickerson — coming off a .370 OBP last season — is the likely starter in left field.
Detroit Tigers — The Tigers could rotate Damon, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez between designated hitter and the outfield corners. Detroit could use a lefty hitter, and a lead-off hitter.
Oakland Athletics — The rumor of the weekend, the A’s have a lot of young outfield options but not many veteran hitters. They got aggressive with this week’s Ben Sheets signing.
San Francisco Giants — Might have fallen out of the mix with Mark DeRosa signed. In theory, DeRosa could move to right and leave left field for Damon.
Tampa Bay Rays — Carl Crawford is in left and Pat Burrell at designated hitter, but reports indicate the Rays might be willing to give Damon the bulk of the DH at-bats and leave Burrell as an expensive platoon player.
Toronto Blue Jays — Maybe they could put Travis Snider in right field, keep Adam Lind at DH and sign Damon for left. Damon could replace Marco Scutaro as the lead-off hitter.
Could be an opening (4)
I don’t remember these teams being linked to Damon, and it most cases it’s a stretch to think there could be a connection, but it might be possible.
Cleveland Indians — Right now, the Indians have a pair of young outfielders — Michael Brantley and Trevor Crowe — set to fight for playing time in left field.
Minnesota Twins — The Twins have only four outfielders — plus Jason Kubel — on the 40-man. Delmon Young is hardly a slam dunk as an everyday left fielder.
San Diego Padres — They need a lot of things, including a left fielder. Damon seems highly unlikely, but I guess you never know with a team like this.
Washington Nationals — Fumored to be interested in trading left fielder Josh Willingham, and they did grab Adam Dunn late last winter.
Would require a serious change of plans (6)
Indications are that these teams have absolutely no need for Damon or any desire to sign him.
Baltimore Orioles — With Luke Scott, Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold, the Orioles are set in left field and at designated hitter.
Chicago White Sox — There is already a corner outfield/designated hitter rotation in place. Jim Thome might have made more sense as a left-handed veteran.
Colorado Rockies — There are already a ton of left-handed hitters on this team, including three left-handed outfielders.
Los Angeles Angels — Signed Hideki Matsui to be their designated hitter, and already have Juan Rivera in left. Willing to eat most of Gary Matthews contract because they don’t need an outfielder.
Seattle Mariners — Taking a chance on Milton Bradley in left field, already have lefty Ken Griffey Jr. as their primary designated hitter.
Texas Rangers — Seem ready to move forward with Julio Borbon as their everyday center fielder, moving Josh Hamilton to left. Borbon, Hamilton and David Murphy are all left-handed.
Clearly heading a different direction (4)
Under different circumstances, Damon might make sense as an outfield upgrade for these teams, but it doesn’t seem likely this season.
Arizona Diamondbacks — When they signed Adam LaRoche to play first base, left field became the only place for Conor Jackson. Dumped Eric Byrnes, suggesting no desire for another outfielder.
Kansas City Royals — Signing Rick Ankiel probably completed the Royals outfield, which already has a left-handed hitter at all three spots.
New York Yankees — You know the story.
Pittsburgh Pirates — Seem to be working on their pitching this winter, content to take their chances on Lastings Milledge, Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.
No place to play (9)
Aside from some sort of injury, it’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which Damon ends up with one of these teams.
Boston Red Sox — Jacoby Ellsbury. David Ortiz. Both left-handed.
Chicago Cubs — Alfonso Soriano.
Florida Marlins — Chris Coghlan.
Houston Astros — Remember when they paid Carlos Lee a bazillion dollars to be their left fielder? They’re still doing that.
Los Angeles Dodgers — Manny Ramirez.
Milwaukee Brewers — Ryan Braun.
New York Mets — Jason Bay.
Philadelpiha Phillies — Raul Ibanez.
St. Louis Cardinals — Matt Holliday.