By Matt Snyder
Free agent designated hitter (well, I guess he could play outfield, too, but that's probably a stretch) Johnny Damon is still looking for work. And the Orioles have not ruled out signing the 38-year-old, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned. Of course, Heyman also reports nothing is imminent.
It's a bit surprising Damon hasn't been signed by now. He hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 homers, 29 doubles and seven triples last season. Of course, previous Heyman reports have indicated Damon's asking price has been too high. If he's desperate enough to accept a meager fee like, say, $3 million just to hit for a full season, there might be more suitors.
The lingering storyline with Damon is his pursuit of 3,000 hits. He currently has gathered 2,723 in his career. For the past three seasons, he's averaged 151 hits, so he needs two more full seasons and then he probably gets there. It can't be a secret what that number might mean. The only players to ever have 3,000 hits are either: 1. In the Hall of Fame; 2. headed there (Craig Biggio, Derek Jeter); 3. Being held out (Pete Rose due to his ban and Rafael Palmeiro due to his failed drug test). So if Damon reached 3,000, it's reasonable to believe he'd have a shot at enshrinement. If not, he's not getting in.
As for the Orioles, they don't necessarily have a hole at DH, but Damon would be an upgrade. As things currently stand, some combination of Mark Reynolds, Chris Davis and Wilson Betemit are likely to fill 1B, 3B and the DH. Nolan Reimold -- if Endy Chavez plays left field -- could also be an option.
If the Orioles do sign Damon, hopefully they'll flip him to Toronto eventually. It would be a shame to come so close to the AL East grand slam without completing it.
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