The Phillies are still in search of an outfield bat, according to Jim Salisbury, and they’d probably prefer a lefthanded hitter.
One of the players on Salisbury’s list of names to watch would be a perfect fit for this team in terms of production, personality and finances.
That player? Johnny David Damon.
Damon, 38, is coming off the worst season of his 17-year career, but even during a poor 2011 his on-base plus slugging percentage was 10 percent better than league-average. He hit 16 homers for the Tampa Bay Rays, which was more than all but three Phillies.
Damon only played 84 innings last year in the outfield, where he is a bit of a liability. His throwing arm is weak and he is worse defensively in left than a John Mayberry, but the Phils would get more defensively from Damon than they got from Raul Ibanez.
Damon would also bring some speed, which can’t be said of any of the other impact leftfielders on the Phils’ radar. Damon is the only one of the bunch who could be penciled into the two-hole just as well as the six-hole.
Last year, Damon made $5.25 million in Tampa Bay on a one-year deal. The Phillies, who will be right up against the luxury tax threshold of $178 million if they re-sign Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge, and keep Kyle Kendrick and Wilson Valdez, would likely be looking to spend no more than $4.5-5 million.
If Damon can be had on a one-year, $4.25-4.5 million deal, he’s pretty much a no-brainer. Signing Damon would give the Phils three solid depth bats – Damon, Ty Wigginton, Jim Thome – for less than the cost of one year of Michael Cuddyer.
Corey Seidman is co-editor of Phillies Nation, co-founder of Brotherly Glove and writes for CSNPhilly.com’s Phillies Talk.