Mo’ money lures Damon to Detroit

Apparently, someone notified Michelle Damon that there is a sufficiently swanky Saks Fifth Avenue in suburban Detroit.

Despite Mrs. Damon’s misgivings about relocating to Michigan for the summer, her well-known husband will be a Tiger. Johnny Damon agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with the team on Saturday, concluding an interminable negotiation with a result that was startling and predictable at the same time.

Startling, because few could have predicted a month ago that Damon would end up in Detroit.

Predictable, because he signed with the team that offered the most money.

The Tigers should be happy with this deal. They added a productive player without the risk of a multiyear investment. Even if you still wonder — as I do — why they didn’t simply keep Curtis Granderson, there is no denying that this team has a better chance of reaching the postseason than it did 24 hours ago.

Damon? He will play for a competitive team, and he should take solace in the fact that the final sticker price isn’t an abject embarrassment to his ability.

And if this turns into a total disaster, the Tigers can ship Damon to a contender in July.

At this stage of the offseason, you celebrate small victories when you can.

Scott Boras, counselor to baseball VIPs, was the lead player in the long-running soap opera. Boras has built an empire on his ability to get top dollar for his clients — most of the time. But you’re not going to find mention of this contract on the front page of his curriculum vitae.

Boras miscalculated the market for Damon. Then he watched it collapse before his eyes once the Yankees spent their last guaranteed nickels on Randy Winn.

Damon earned $13 million in New York last year and won a World Series. As champagne flowed in the Bronx, I doubt he was dreaming of Comerica Park and a pay cut of nearly 40 percent.

Still, it could have been worse, for both the agent and the player. Once the possibility of a reunion with the Yankees went away for good, Boras recovered nicely. He wisely engaged Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, knowing that Ilitch would tap into the cash reserves that he keeps for occasions such as this.

The White Sox, Braves and Rays didn’t offer as much as the Tigers, but their overtures kept Damon’s market value from plummeting too low.

It’s not clear whether Damon had another offer of even $5 million by the time he came to terms with the Tigers. The market says that Ilitch probably could have signed Damon for a little less. But the market has no way of quantifying the lack of appeal that Detroit has to All-Stars from warmer climes.

And yet, the Damons may find that they like living in Detroit. Many people do, despite what you hear. I’m biased, of course, because I was born in Michigan and live there now. But the people are friendly, the summers are terrific, the lakes are gorgeous, and the suburbs look suspiciously similar to those you would find in New York, Chicago or L.A.

Most importantly, a healthy Damon could make a huge impact for the Tigers. Even at 36, he’s a very good offensive player who hits in the clutch and runs the bases well. Damon won’t show the power he displayed at Yankee Stadium, but his left-handed bat should be a boon to Detroit’s right-heavy lineup.

Until Saturday, the Tigers weren’t sure who would bat first or second in their lineup. Now, they know Damon will occupy one of those spots. On a team that could have two rookies in the everyday lineup — center fielder Austin Jackson and second baseman Scott Sizemore — Damon’s presence will offer peace of mind to manager Jim Leyland.

But there is a potential pitfall for the Tigers (there always is). Team officials must now move quickly to appease veteran Carlos Guillen, who grumbled publicly about his role in 2009 and was then told that he would be the everyday left fielder. Oops. That job will belong to Damon at least part of the time, unless Leyland opts to make Damon the designated hitter. And that’s unlikely.

Guillen isn’t a good defender in left field, and he was a .242 hitter last year. By those criteria, he doesn’t have much basis to complain. The Tigers tried to trade him during the offseason but couldn’t find the right deal.

Still, Guillen is well-respected within the clubhouse and twice signed extensions to stay in Detroit. He can provide insurance at second base, where Sizemore has zero big-league experience, and third, where Brandon Inge is returning from two knee surgeries. Oh, and he’s due $26 million through 2011. Handle with care.

In the end, the Tigers and their fans should be happy that Damon is coming to town. He has two World Series rings. He will be good in the clubhouse. He’s charismatic enough that fans may soon find themselves complaining a little less frequently about Granderson’s departure.

And just think: If Damon plays well enough, Boras will get the chance to do this all over again one year from now.

What, you don’t think he’s making plans already?