Johnny Damon may not have played this past season and just turned 40 in November, but the veteran outfielder hasn’t formally decided to retire. Damon, in fact, remains open to playing again or even managing but won’t do so in the minor leagues, according to Marc Topkin at the Tampa Bay Times.
Aside from participating in last year’s World Baseball Classic, Damon hasn’t played since he appeared in 64 games for the Cleveland Indians in 2012. He hit just .222/.281/.329 in 224 PA for the Tribe before the team released him in early August.
Over an 18 year career, however, Damon was among the better outfielders in the game. A .284/.352/.433 career hitter, Damon regularly hit 30+ doubles and stole 20+ bases a year. He’d suit up for seven teams in his career – Kansas City, Oakland, Boston, New York, Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland – twice winning the World Series (2004, 2009).
Damon’s career took a noticeable downward trend in recent years, however. His on base abilities diminished, with his strikeout totals remaining consistent while his walks dropped. He also wasn’t the same threat on the bases as age caught up to his legs. Never a superior defender, Damon’s ability to handle the outfield with regularity also started to become more of a concern. He spent most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons as his team’s designated hitter.
It’s hard to imagine a team handing over a Major League contract to Damon at this point. Even a minor league deal might be a long shot, given the hoard of alternative options that are available for a team in need of outfield depth.