Sources: Tigers, Braves interested in Damon

It’s not clear how many suitors are showing interest in
Johnny Damon at the moment. But the Tigers and Braves are
definitely among the group, multiple major league sources told
FOXSports.com late Friday.

Both clubs hold spring training near Damon’s Orlando
home and play their home games in the Eastern time zone —
satisfying two criteria that Damon is said to be considering.

Thus far, the Braves have taken a more passive approach than
the Tigers. They would be happy to sign Damon if he “falls
into their lap,” one source said Friday, but are unlikely to
offer him a lucrative deal.

In that sense, Atlanta is one of many clubs that could sign
Damon if his price drops far enough. A number of teams — the
Rays, Blue Jays or Angels, to name a few — would benefit from
Damon’s presence. The issue is whether their respective
owners are willing to authorize the additional expense at this late
hour of the baseball offseason.

Late last month, one major league executive said agent Scott
Boras was seeking at least $9 million for Damon.

Detroit’s pursuit hinges on the willingness of team
owner Mike Ilitch to expand the budget for a star player —
something he did previously with Boras clients Ivan Rodriguez and
Magglio Ordonez.

At a Thursday news conference to announce Justin
Verlander’s new $80 million contract with the team, Tigers
club president/general manager Dave Dombrowski was asked about the
perception that the team was slashing payroll with the trades of
Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.

“I guarantee you, if Mike Ilitch owns the team,
you’re going to try to win,” Dombrowski said.
“There might be some adjustments you need to make. But he is
going to try to win at this point. It starts with your owner, and
he wants to win.”

Dombrowski declined to answer a specific question about Damon
but did say that the Tigers’ 2010 payroll would be
“pretty similar” to what it was last year. That could
be an important piece of information, considering that the Detroit
payroll stood at around $130 million as of last Opening Day.

With every arbitration case settled, the Tigers’
payroll is on course to be a little over $120 million once the
regular season begins. According to those estimates, Detroit could
offer Damon a one-year deal worth around $6 million and keep the
payroll below where it stood at this time last year.

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