Ultimately, Johnny Damon and Scott Boras didn't take the Yankees' words seriously enough. They thought for sure that Brian Cashman would bend, out of respect for what Damon did the past four seasons and especially in 2009. But Damon and Boras misread the situation, and now Damon will have to look elsewhere.
His last request was two years and $22 million from the Yankees, but they already had agreed to terms with Nick Johnson by that point. Now Damon might have to settle for something like the two years and $15.5 million that Boston gave Mike Cameron.
He also might have to settle for a locale that doesn't greatly appeal to him. Here are his top three preferences, according to friends of the outfielder:
The problem: The Braves need a bat, but they'd rather get a righty hitter who can play first base.
The problem: The budget-conscious Rays made their one big buy when they acquired closer Rafael Soriano from Atlanta. If they somehow could find a taker for designated hitter Pat Burrell, this marriage would have real potential.
3. Cubs. Damon loves a good adventure. What would be more exciting than helping the Cubs break their 101-year curse, the way he took part in similar efforts by the Red Sox (85 years) and Yankees (eight)?
The problem: The Cubs' primary need is a centerfielder, as they have the ultra-expensive Alfonso Soriano in leftfield.