The San Francisco Giants signed Aubrey Huff to a one-year contract, a move that probably didn't set off any alarm bells at your dinner table. After all, what does the signing of a veteran first baseman to a team 3,000 miles away from the Bronx have to do with with the price of peanuts at Yankee Stadium? More than you might think, dear reader.
San Francisco was seen as one of the few potential landing spots for erstwhile Yankee left fielder Johnny Damon and Huff's signing makes it very difficult to see how that could still come to fruition. They've got Huff and Pablo Sandoval, the Panda, at the infield corners and they signed Mark DeRosa earlier this offseason. He looks set for left field, which means there's no spot for Damon in the city by the bay.
Other potential suitors like St. Louis, Texas and Atlanta have made other moves to fill their needs in the lineup while Damon sits by and waits for a multi-year deal close to the $13 million he made last year. There doesn't seem to be any chance of such a deal coming to fruition which means two things. One, Damon should probably have a serious discussion with Scott Boras and, two, it is getting harder to see another round of negotiations between Damon and the Yankees.
The Yankees have said they are right up against the payroll limit, something Joel Sherman of the New York Post reiterates on Tuesday, but they are in the market for another outfielder. Xavier Nady, Rocco Baldelli and Reed Johnson would satisfy that need, but they aren't as good as Damon and they don't have any of the place in Yankee lore that Damon earned with his World Series double steal last November.
We don't doubt that Brian Cashman was given a firm number by Hal Steinbrenner when it came to the budget. If the G.M. went to the owner and said that they could have Johnson for $2 - 3 million or Damon for $6 million for 2010, though, would that number really remain firm? The gut feeling is that it wouldn't and that the marginal rise in payroll would be more than offset by the rise in production Damon would offer to the offense.
We'll see what happens, but there may still be a pinstriped uniform for Damon.