Yankees, Johnson reach preliminary agreement on $32 million contract extension

Friday, January 7th 2005, 9:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ All that stands between Randy Johnson and the New York Yankees are a bunch of medical tests.

The Big Unit and the Yankees reached a preliminary agreement Thursday on a $32 million, two-year contract extension, leaving only a physical as the final step needed to finish the drawn-out process of finalizing the trade Arizona and the Yankees agreed to Dec. 30.

Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner, waived his no-trade clause as part of the agreement negotiated by agents Barry Meister and Alan Nero, a baseball official and a person close to Johnson told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Arizona will receive pitchers Javier Vazquez and Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and $9 million in the swap for the 41-year-old left-hander. The teams were working to schedule the medical exams for Johnson and Vazquez on Monday.

Johnson's current contract, which is entering its final season, called for a $16 million salary in 2005, of which $6 million was to be deferred at 2 percent interest, with the money payable in 2010.

Under his new contract with New York, that $6 million now will be deferred without interest. The new deal calls for annual salaries of $16 million in 2006 and 2007, with $1.5 million a year deferred, also without interest.

New York will pay out the $9 million in deferred money over three years: $3.5 million annually in 2008 and 2009, and $2 million in 2010.

Johnson's current deal also calls for him to receive two courtside tickets for Phoenix Suns games through the 2010-11 season and six premium tickets for all Diamondbacks games starting with the first season of his retirement through 2010. Arizona will retain responsibility for that part of the contract.

In addition, all the award bonus provisions in his current contract will expire after 2005.

Arizona also had a preliminary agreement in place to trade Navarro and pitching prospect William Juarez to Los Angeles for outfielder Shawn Green and $8 million. But that deal appeared to be falling apart because the Diamondbacks and Green failed to agree to an extension.

``The window has expired. There is no agreement,'' baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said.

Los Angeles and Arizona could attempt to restart those talks, however, and ask for a new window.

Diamondbacks general partner Ken Kendrick and Green's agent, Greg Genske, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Johnson would join a starting rotation that includes Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright. Tanyon Sturtze is viewed as a possible sixth starter should Brown, who has had back problems, get hurt again.

New York also faces a Saturday deadline to re-sign designated hitter and backup outfielder Ruben Sierra.

``I talked to several teams and I talked to the Yankees today several times,'' said his agent, Chuck Berry. ``We're making progress, but we're still not there. I think Ruben likes the Yankees and has enjoyed his time there. That's our primary focus. But, obviously, with Saturday coming around we are talking to other teams as well.''