Yankees, Diamondbacks, Dodgers keep working on big deal


Friday, December 17th 2004, 8:29 pm
By: News On 6


NEW YORK (AP) _ The New York Yankees, Arizona and Los Angeles spent Friday trying to put the finishing touches on the megadeal that would move All-Stars Randy Johnson, Shawn Green and Javier Vazquez.

A day after the three teams quickly put the major players in place, the clubs worked to resolve the issues still holding up the trade _ money, mostly.

Even if there is an agreement to put Johnson in Yankee pinstripes, New York plans to ask for a 72-hour window to negotiate a contract extension with the Big Unit before completing the swap, a baseball source told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The Yankees were willing to send Vazquez and top prospects Dioner Navarro and Eric Duncan to Los Angeles as a way to get Johnson. Los Angeles would deal Green and pitchers Brad Penny and Yhency Brazoban to the Diamondbacks.

``We're at the point where we've decided the best thing we can do is have no comment,'' Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick said.

Johnson and Green both have no-trade clauses. While Johnson wants to play for the Yankees, Green may want to stay close to home in Southern California.

``I think Shawn always envisioned finishing his career with the Dodgers,'' agent Greg Genske said. ``But if a trade is put in place, he's going to consider all of his options.''

At 41, Johnson is owed $16 million in the last year of his contract. The five-time Cy Young winner has long caught the eye of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who spent the afternoon meeting with top club officials at Legends Field, their spring training home.

Green also is set to make $16 million, a year after slumping to .266 with 28 home runs and 86 RBIs. The Diamondbacks might be in good position to lure the 31-year-old outfielder to the desert _ his former agent, Jeff Moorad, is Arizona's new chief executive officer.

The Dodgers had a couple of things to clear up, too.

After losing free agents Adrian Beltre and Steve Finley, Los Angeles may be reluctant to trade away its lone remaining power hitter.

Plus, there's a money matter: Vazquez is due $35.5 million over the next three years, the Dodgers might want the Yankees to pick up some of that cost, perhaps so much that the deal would need approval from the commissioner's office.

And, what would be baseball's biggest deal of the winter could get even larger. There was speculation the St. Louis Cardinals might want to become a part of this trade.

At this point, the Yankees are determined to get Johnson. After calling off trade talks with Arizona earlier this month, saying the price the Diamondbacks demanded was too high, New York renewed its pursuit of the dominating left-hander.

Johnson was 16-14, a record that was skewed by playing for a team that could not score runs and lost 111 games. He led the majors with 290 strikeouts, was second was a 2.60 ERA and pitched a perfect game against Atlanta.

Johnson wants to finish up with a contender, and could join a rotation that already has added free agents Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright. Those two moves escalated the arms race with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, who beat the Yankees in the AL championship.

Since winning the title, Boston signed lefty David Wells but lost free agent Pedro Martinez.

Vazquez, 28, 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 had a 9.53 ERA in three games in the postseason.

Penny, 26, was traded from Florida to Los Angeles on July 30, but saw limited action for Los Angeles because of a problem in his right arm. He was 9-10 with a 3.15 ERA for both clubs.

Brazoban, 24, made his major league debut this season with Dodgers, going 6-2 with a 2.48 ERA.

Navarro, a catcher, made his big league debut this year after rapid progress in the Yankees' minor league system. Duncan, a third baseman, is also regarded as a prize prospect.