Yanks agree to one-year deal with Johnson
Nick Johnson is returning to the Yankees, a move that likely will
end Johnny Damon’s time in New York after four seasons.
Johnson reached a preliminary agreement Friday on a $5.5
million, one-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations
said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement is
not yet complete.
Johnson must pass a physical for the agreement to be
finalized. He can earn about $1 million more in performance bonuses
next year, and the deal includes a 2011 mutual option for at least
$5.5 million with possible escalators.
Damon, who had a key double steal that helped New York beat
Philadelphia in the World Series, became a free agent after
completing a $52 million, four-year contract.
While he was popular with teammates and fans, the Yankees
were concerned about his age (36). The sides also were far apart on
money. Damon was seeking a three-year deal worth at least $39
million, while New York was prepared to go no higher than $18
million to $20 million over two seasons.
Johnson began his career in New York and spent three years
with the Yankees before he was traded to Montreal after the 2003
season in the Javier Vazquez deal. The 31-year-old becomes the
second significant addition to the Yankees during the offseason
following last week’s acquisition of 28-year-old center fielder
Curtis Granderson in a trade from Detroit.
New York has been trying to get younger and save money at the
same time. World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, the Yankees’ 35-year-old
designated hitter, left this week for a $6 million, one-year deal
with the Los Angeles Angels.
Johnson, a first baseman, will become replace Matsui as the
Yankees’ DH and Melky Cabrera appears likely to take over from
Damon in left. Johnson hit a combined .291 for Washington and
Florida last season with eight homers, 62 RBIs, 99 walks, a .426
on-base percentage and a .405 slugging percentage. He figures to
bat second for the Yankees behind Derek Jeter.
While Johnson has had a high on-base percentage throughout
his career, he has been fragile. He has made nine trips to the
disabled list for a sprained right wrist (2000), bruised left wrist
(2002), broken right hand (2003), strained back (2004), broken
cheekbone (2004), bruised right heel (2005), broken right leg (all
of 2007), right wrist surgery (2008) and strained right hamstring