Reunited, and it feels so good? Damon and
Ramirez will be back together, this time with
the Rays, pending physicals
With the weight of maturing contracts and low attendance hanging over their heads, the Tampa Bay Rays have seen key talent that have made them low-revenue contenders leave their roster this off-season. But, pending a physical, some star players nearing the end of their careers are coming to town.
According to multiple sources, both Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez are just a physical away from becoming Rays. SI.comâ€™s Jon Heyman (via Twitter) reports that Damonâ€™s deal is worth $5.25 million with $750,000 in attendance bonuses, while Ramirezâ€™ contract is for $2 million. Both contracts are of the 1-year variety for the 2011 season.
Damon will be used to fill leftfield after the Rays lost Carl Crawford to the Red Sox through free agency. Ramirez, a defensive liability, will be used as a DH.
Damon, 36, saw a sharp decline in performance last year with the Tigers after leaving the Yankees. He drove in 81 runs after having 107 in 2009 with the Yankees. His slash line all saw declines from 2009 as well, going .271/.355/.401 with a WAR of 1.6.
For Ramirez, 38, who split time between the Dodgers and White Sox last season, itâ€™s a matter of age decline, as well. After having an OPS of 1.232 in 2008 after arriving with the Dodgers, his power numbers have slipped. Over 24 games with the White Sox he had an OPS of just .739 over 24 games.
Still, the deals brokered by the Rays for fractions of what both players earned last year (for Damon it was $8,000,000 while Manny pulled in $18,695,006). Both players are represented by Scott Boras.
Much like Tampa Bay bringing in Wade Boggs in 1998, there will certainly be marquee value in the aging veterans. Both have had broad fan appeal, most notably when paired with the Red Sox as â€śIdiotsâ€ť when the Sox won the World Series in 2004, and Ramirez and his Mannywood star draw with the Dodgers. With the Yankees seemingly missing out on several free agents this off-season, itâ€™s possible that while the losses of the likes of Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, and Rafael Soriano this off-season, the Rays may still have a chance at being competitive in 2011 with the additions while staying within a slendered down budget.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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