Perhaps more than anyone, Alex Rodriguez wanted Johnny Damon back in the Bronx.I give him credit for being there for a friend and offering up advice, I'm just not sure that was the best thing for the Yankees and Damon?
Rodriguez, speaking publicly Thursday for the first time this spring, said he reached out to Damon this offseason to offer advice on free agency.
"Johnny and I are very good friends, and we've always had a lot of dialogue, both in the offseason and the season," Rodriguez said. "I was just trying to share some of my experiences with him."
"I was crossing my fingers hoping that he would come back," Rodriguez said. "Johnny's a great player. He was an integral part of our world championship team, and we're going to miss him dearly. He's also a great human being, and he's always out there doing a lot of charity work."
To be clear, I AM NOT BLAMING A-ROD for Damon signing with the Tigers, that will always fall on Damon and Boras. Plus, that would be totally unfair unless I knew exactly what advice he gave, which I don't because he did not go into detail about it.
What I will say is that A-Rod has never, nor will he ever experience free agency in the position Damon was in this offseason. A-Rod is now basically signed until retirement and has always been a free agent when he was the best or one of the best players in the game, not a declining outfielder that nobody wants to see in the outfield. For him it was easy to sit back and wait for the money. Damon, on the other hand, never got the money he wanted and ended up having to sign for a lot less than he originally wanted heading into free agency.
Once again we have no idea what A-Rod said so he can't be blamed, I just think his view of free agency is much different that what Damon's should have been this time around. But who knows, maybe he told Damon to dump Boras, take control, and make sure he resigned here. That would have been some good advice.
(Update) Thanks to a well informed reader, I have found out at least some of what A-Rod told Damon. This comes from John Harper:
"Under further questioning, after the press conference, [Damon] also admitted that, at the urging of Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia, he made an A-Rod-like attempt to remain a Yankee in mid-January, personally calling both team president Randy Levine and owner Hal Steinbrenner to try to make a deal."Then there is this from Tyler Kepner:
Damon amended that statement later, saying the Tigers became his priority only after he realized he would not re-sign with the Yankees. He knew that for sure in January, when he called the managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner at the urging of C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez.So yea, you certainly can't fault A-Rod for anything here. It was good advice.