Late last night Ken Rosenthal reported via Twitter that Johnny Damon will sign with the Cleveland Indians.
Details about the deal are likely to come forth as more is reported, but one aspect of the deal being reported is very interesting.
Johnny Damon’s Role With Indians
A tweet by Rosenthal said that Damon will have the option to leave the team once Grady Sizemore returns from injury, which is scheduled to be June 3rd. This gives the Indians a reliable veteran in left field until Sizemore is able to return, provided that he does not have any setbacks.
Shelley Duncan is currently in left for Cleveland, and he is not doing all that badly. He is second in batting average, .294, on the team so far this season. The difference is that Damon is a true outfielder, while Duncan is better suited to play at first base. With Casey Kotchman’s struggles thus far, which include not hitting the ball out of the infield, Duncan could get regular time at first with Damon in left.
Signing Damon could result in Aaron Cunningham being sent down to AAA Columbus, as he is currently the fourth outfielder.
This deal makes perfect sense for the Indians. Damon is a proven player, and is coming off a solid year in Tampa Bay, in which he hit .261 primarily in a DH role. He does not even need to play every day, especially if Duncan continues to produce at a high level.
This deal draws similarities to when the Indians signed veteran outfielder Trot Nixon in 2007, which was the year that they took the Red Sox to Game 7 in the ALCS. Perhaps this veteran outfielder will have the same effect.