Yanks Reach Tentative Deal for Big Unit
NEW YORK – Randy Johnson (search) finally appears headed to New York. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Yankees reached a tentative agreement Thursday on a deal to send the Big Unit to the Bronx for pitchers Javier Vazquez and Brad Halsey, young catcher Dioner Navarro and $9 million, a baseball official said on condition of anonymity.
The agreement must be put in writing, a process that was about 90 percent complete Thursday night but will not be finished until Friday at the earliest and perhaps not until Monday, the official said.
While not confirming the substance of the report, Diamondbacks (search) managing partner Ken Kendrick confirmed that the teams "are in serious discussions."
Kendrick also indicated Arizona was working on another deal involving Vazquez. One possible suitor was the Los Angeles Dodgers (search), who could send outfielder Shawn Green and pitcher Brad Penny to Arizona.
The separate trades would, in essence, reach the same conclusion as the three-team effort that fell apart last week when the Dodgers backed out.
"We would not agree to a final deal or a trade of Randy Johnson unless we believed it would benefit our team," Kendrick said. "That would require in return at least two significant major league ballplayers."
Kendrick said, however, that no deal could be completed, or the paperwork even submitted to the commissioner's office, until early next week.
In addition, the Yankees reached a preliminary agreement on a contract with Tino Martinez (search) that would bring the free-agent first baseman back to New York. The one-year deal with Martinez, who was at New York's minor league complex Thursday in Tampa, Fla., would guarantee him about $2.7 million and include a club option for 2006.
Even after the Yankees and Diamondbacks finalize their deal, several things must happen before the trade could become complete.
— Because the money was greater than $1 million, commissioner Bud Selig must give his approval, which likely won't happen until next week.
— All players must pass physicals.
— Johnson has to formally give approval because he has a no-trade clause.
— The Yankees want a 72-hour window to negotiate an extension with the 41-year-old Johnson, whose current contract expires after the 2005 season.
Johnson, a 10-time All-Star, would join a reshaped rotation that now includes Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright. The Yankees already had Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown, but blew a 3-0 lead in the AL championship series and lost to Boston.
The money New York is sending Arizona would offset some of the $34.5 million Vazquez is owed: $10.5 million in 2005, $11.5 million in 2006 and $12.5 million in 2007. New York is making the final $1 million payment of his signing bonus, which is due Friday.
Johnson was 16-14, a record skewed by playing for a team that went 51-111, tied for the 10th-most losses in major league history. The Diamondbacks scored two runs or fewer in 17 of his 35 starts. He led the majors with 290 strikeouts, was second with a 2.60 ERA and pitched a perfect game against Atlanta.
Johnson is owed $16 million next season, and his contract contains a $1 million personal services contract payable in the first season of his retirement, money Arizona still will give him.
Vazquez, a 28-year-old right-hander, was an All-Star in his first season since being traded from Montreal to the Yankees. He was 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA, but won just once in his last nine regular-season starts and had a 9.53 ERA in three postseason games.
Halsey, a 23-year-old left-hander, was 1-3 with a 6.47 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance for the Yankees last season.
Navarro, 20, made his big league debut this year after rapid progress in the Yankees' minor league system. He batted .254 with one homer and 15 RBIs in 134 at-bats for Columbus of the Triple-A International League after hitting .271 with three homers and 29 RBIs in 255 at-bats for Double-A Trenton of the Eastern League.
Bringing back Martinez would give the Yankees a backup in case Jason Giambi's physical problems continue.
Martinez, 37, a two-time All-Star, played for New York from 1996-2001, helping the Yankees win five AL pennants and four World Series titles. A close friend of Derek Jeter, Martinez hit .262 with 23 homers and 76 RBIs for Tampa Bay last season.
Tony Clark and John Olerud played first base in Giambi's absence last season. They both became free agents.
Martinez's deal would be subject to him passing a physical and agreement on contract language.