Looks like Nick Johnson is coming back
It looks like the Yankees are getting very close to announcing a one-year deal with Nick Johnson to be their designated hitter. Up until the moment I got wind of this last night, I really did believe the Yankees were eventually going to hammer something out with Johnny Damon — it seemed too natural a fit not to.
Brian Cashman even called him “the perfect two-hole hitter for this place,” meaning Yankee Stadium, and there was no question Damon wanted to come back. But they needed to make the dollars work, and it seemed like the Yankees had no patience to wait out Scott Boras and his search for a commitment of three or four years near $13 million annually.
So the Yankees’ DH may be Johnson, which makes a lot of sense if you look at his on-base percentages — which we obviously know Cashman & Co. do. Johnson had a .426 OBP last year, which ranked third in the Majors behind Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols.
Now the trick for the Yankees will be keeping him healthy and on the field. I remember covering that game against the Mets in 2006 when Johnson suffered a fractured femur after colliding with Austin Kearns in right field at Shea Stadium. It was an ugly, ugly scene, and Johnson let out a blood-curdling scream that some of his Nationals teammates cringed just recalling.
But of course that was a freak injury, and maybe he’ll find better health in the DH role. And it’s not like the Yankees didn’t have to tread lightly with Hideki Matsui and his balky knees either.