I reported for Newsday that Nick Johnson and the Yankees are wrapping up a one-year deal for about $5.5 million. And that very likely means the end (for now) of Johnny Damon's time in the Bronx.
The Yankees would have paid more for Damon than for Johnson, but their figure was nowhere near Damon's. So Johnson will take over as the "almost full-time DH," to use Joe Girardi's words from earlier today.
I know there's a lot of skepticism that the Yankees will actually go into the season with Melky Cabrera as their everyday leftfielder, and yes, he might not be your prototyipcal corner outfielder in terms of offensive production. But remember that the Yankees will be getting above-average offense from all of their premium positions _ catcher, second base, shortstop and third base.
Johnson can hit second, even though he lacks Damon's speed. He gave up opportunities to keep playing the field (for San Francisco or Seattle) because he loved his time in New York and he sincerely (at least, I believe him) wants to win a World Series ring.
Next up for the Yankees: A starting pitcher, and they'll probably let that market settle down. Ben Sheets is on their radar, but to reiterate what I've written here previously, I can't see the Yankees engaging in a bidding war for Sheets.
--As for the Mets, it sounds like it wasn't that busy a day on the Jason Bay and Bengie Molina fronts. There's some hope that Bay could respond tomorrow with either a counterproposal or, less likely, an acceptance. The Mets have indicated to Bay that they'd go to a fifth year with a lower base salary than thier four-year offer for about $65 million
Molina? "That's gonna take a while," one person in the loop said. As long as other catchers stay in play, there's nothing lost by waiting for Molina's demands to become more reasonable.
--Here's a scout from another club, discussing the Mets' new potential setup man, Ryota Igarashi: "He has a very good arm. ...He's a fastball-split guy. He can get it up close to the mid-90s most of the time. His split-finger is a pretty good pitch for him. He’ll fill into that setup role real well."