Tonight's rumor: Johnny Damon - and he's interested in Rays
UPDATE, 9:15: If the Rays want to talk, Damon will listen. "I would be interested,'' he told the Times in a text message. "They have a good team and I feel like they can get back to the World Series.''
DEVELOPING: In a way it's a sign of success that the Rays are being mentioned with so many of the big-name free agents remaining on the market. And tonight there is another one, as they are being linked to OF Johnny Damon, who is really looking for a new home now that the Yankees signed ex-Ray Randy Winn to play leftfield.
Damon is another one of those players that in some ways could be a interesting fit and a boost for the Rays, but would probably require some roster shuffling and - of much more significance - that he became a major bargain.
With the Rays payroll pushing past $70-million, it's hard to imagine them adding more than another $1-million or $2-million to it. And if Damon wasn't going back to the Yankees for the $2-million or so they reportedly had to offer, he's not going to come to the Rays for less.
There are reports tonight in New York, on WFAN radio and from the Post's Joel Sherman, that the Rays have serious interest, with the theory that Damon would share the DH role with Pat Burrell and be a reserve outfielder.
According to Sherman, "Damon would consider a one-year contract in the $7 million range with deferred money. If he is willing to defer enough money to bring the actual current value of the contract down to the $4 million-$5 million range, the Rays would become more aggressive."
Such a deal.
This should be an interesting process at least. There are also reports tonight mentioning the Reds and the Tigers, and some old stories about the Braves, and there sure to be more as agent Scott Boras scrambles to find a new home for Damon after losing the chance to stay in New York.