UPDATE, 12:29 p.m.: In a nice bit of timing, I just spoke to Brian Cashman on the phone and he touched a little more on the Damon process. He says the notion that the Yankees didn’t “engage” with Damon is just plain false and that, despite media reports that Damon might sign for $7 million a year, he fully expects Damon to get the Bobby Abreu-type money of at least $9 million a year.
“I mean, that’s what they said when they turned down our last offer,” Cashman told me. “I told them I was at the level of two years, $13 million and they said ‘no bleeping way’ and then we even floated the one year, $6 million with deferred money and they pointed to the Bobby Abreu deal. So I fully expect him to get Abreu money, unless they were playing us the entire winter. That would be like playing poker without any hand at all and, you know, maybe they did that.”
I asked Cashman if ever had regrets about how he handled a particular negotiation.
“I’m sure in the past, I have, I’ve put some things away but in this case, we did what we could,” he said. “We absolutely did what we could. The information we got from them was loud and clear. We followed Johnny’s guidelines, Johnny’s path. What’s happening now is a lot of spin doctoring by the agent. It didn’t work out. Don’t try to make us look bad or the Yankees look bad. That’s not right.”
Looking out my window right now, it’s hard to imagine anyone being interested in playing catch or taking batting practice, but I guess that’s why spring training is in Florida – Chad’s on his way to Tampa today and a slew of Yankees are already into informal workouts at the minor-league complex. Baseball is here.
While I was doing some reading today, I stumbled across a story from a few days ago  that had some interesting quotes from Brian Cashman. Cash spoke at the University of New Haven and when asked by a local reporter beforehand about the Yankees policy of not negotiating extensions on expiring contracts, said this:
“The industry the last two free agent markets seems to be going downward and the player’s ages are going upward. It makes more sense to be patient. My attitude is if this is the place you want to be, you will make it happen. Johnny Damon professed his love for the Yankees, wanted to be here and was given every chance to be here. He’s not here anymore and I don’t feel that is the Yankees’ fault. They have to reconcile why they are not here, not me. If people want to be here and be a part of something, then find a way to work it out. Of course we want (Jeter, Rivera and Girardi) back, but we choose to delay that until the end of the year.”
The story also mentions that Cashman extended two contracts earlier in his career – Paul O’Neill’s and Chad Curtis’s – and none since. So there’s some random trivia for you. Cashman also said the Damon negotiations basically ended after the Yankees had two offers (a two-year, $14 million deal and a one-year, $6 million deal) turned down. Cashman has no regrets.
“I told (Damon and Boras), ‘I don’t know if Hal (Steinbrenner, the team’s part owner) would approve it, but I’m not going to fight for it unless we know you will do it,’” Cashman said. “Scott Boras said, ‘Bobby Abreu’s (new) contract is $9 million a year right now on the table so why would we do that? So I expect to see a Bobby Abreu contract.’ … I hope he does not sign for something less than our offer. That means he should have been a Yankee and that’s not our fault.”