The Yankees are getting closer to an agreement with free-agent first baseman Nick Johnson for a one-year contract worth about $5.5 million. If the deal is consummated, Johnny Damon's chances to return to the Yankees would be diminished, according to Yankees people.

The Yankees would use Johnson as a DH and occasional first baseman if the contract can be completed. It is expected to pay him at least $5 million.

The Yankees were willing to pay about $18 million over two years to keep Damon, who is believed to be seeking a deal worth $13 million a year.

The Yankees' discussions with Johnson were first reported by Newsday's Ken Davidoff.

Johnson, 31, who owns a career .402 on-base percentage, was originally drafted by the Yankees in 1996 and began his major league career with the Yankees in 2001.

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