Both free-agent outfielders agreed to one-year contracts with the Rays, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press on Friday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreements were subject to physicals and had not been announced.
Johnny Damon can help the Rays, as a top of the order hitter and as a clubhouse presence. Read >>
Damon gets $5.25 million and the chance to earn $750,000 in bonuses based on attendance, the person said. Ramirez gets $2 million.
The moves mark the first major additions for the AL East champions after a devastating offseason in which one prominent player after another left cost-cutting Tampa Bay.
Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano signed elsewhere as free agents. Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett were traded. A strong bullpen was depleted by the losses of Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls.
Ramirez and Damon played together for four years in Boston and helped lead the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series title -- ending the team's 86-year championship drought. Both colorful characters are well past their primes, but if nothing else they could at least provide an attraction at Tropicana Field for a Rays team that drew just 1.86 million fans last year.
|Manny Ramirez agrees to a one-year deal with the Rays for $2 million. (US Presswire)|
Hampered by injuries, the longtime slugger had 320 plate appearances in 90 games. Still a power threat, he likely will be a designated hitter for the Rays.
Ramirez's career took a downward turn in May 2009 when he was suspended 50 games for using a banned female fertility drug.
The 12-time All-Star has 555 home runs, good for 14th on the career list, and 1,830 RBIs, which ranks 18th. He also helped Boston win the 2007 World Series, then was traded to the Dodgers the following season.
The 37-year-old Damon spent last season with the Detroit Tigers, batting .271 with eight homers and 51 RBI, mostly as a DH. Weak-armed in left field and no longer the stolen base threat he once was, Damon remains very durable -- he played 145 games last year and hit 36 doubles in 539 at-bats.
Damon, who is from nearby Orlando, can pad his paycheck by making a difference at the gate. He would get $150,000 each for 1.75 million, 1.85 million, 1.95 million, 2.05 million and 2.15 million in home attendance.
A two-time All-Star, Damon spent four years with the New York Yankees and helped them win the 2009 World Series. They let him leave as a free agent and he signed an $8 million, one-year deal with Detroit.