Report has Johnson going to Yankees in megadeal

Friday, December 17, 2004

NEW YORK -- Randy Johnson was on the verge of joining the New York Yankees in a three-team megadeal that also includes Shawn Green and Javier Vazquez, sources told The Associated Press on Thursday night.

Green would go from Los Angeles to Arizona while Vazquez would move from the Yankees to the Dodgers in the trade that would put the Arizona ace in Yankee pinstripes.

"It is going to happen," a source familiar with the negotiations said on the condition of anonymity. Another team source said the principals were in place for the trade to be completed.

Newsday and Fox Sports, which first reported the deal on their Web sites, said the other players were Dodgers pitchers Brad Penny and Yhency Brazoban, and Yankees top prospects Eric Duncan and Dioner Navarro.

There was no confirmation from any of the teams that a deal had been finalized. And one source said it still could fall apart at the last moment because of the number of players and clubs involved.

"We're still in conversations with a lot of different clubs about a lot of different possibilities," Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said earlier in the day. "We have talked about some three-way deals and some four-way deals. I don't know if it's going to happen or not."

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has long coveted Johnson, still one of baseball's most dominating pitchers at 41. New York was not able to pry the Big Unit from the Diamondbacks last summer and called off trade talks with them two weeks ago, saying the price was too high.

But the Yankees and Arizona reopened discussions this week, and the five-time Cy Young winner was now set to move. Johnson has a no-trade clause, but had said he would accept a deal to the Yankees.

New York already has added free agent Carl Pavano to its rotation this offseason, aiming to improve a team that blew a 3-0 lead against Boston in the AL championship series. The Yankees also have reached a deal with Jaret Wright, while the Red Sox have signed David Wells.

Green also has a no-trade clause. The outfielder would go with Penny and Brazoban to Arizona while Navarro, a catcher, and Duncan, a third baseman, would go to the Dodgers.

Johnson had his best years with the Diamondbacks, winning the NL Cy Young Award his first four seasons with them. When Curt Schilling was traded to Arizona from Philadelphia, he and Johnson formed perhaps the most imposing righty-lefty combination the game has known.

Schilling and Johnson were co-MVPs of the 2001 World Series, when Arizona beat the Yankees in seven thrilling games.

Johnson underwent knee surgery during the 2003 season, but came back for what might have been his best year with Arizona in 2004. On a team that lost 111 games, Johnson was second in the majors with a 2.60 ERA. He led the majors in strikeouts (290) for the ninth time and sixth time in the last seven years.

Johnson was 16-14, but 13-2 when the anemic Arizona offense scored more than two runs for him. Along the way, he pitched a perfect game against Atlanta.

Vazquez, 28, was 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA in his first season with the Yankees, and was picked for the AL All-Star team. He was 1-0 with a 9.53 ERA in three games in the postseason, and the Yankees always put a premium on October performances.

Green, 31, has a .282 career average, but dipped to .266 last season with 28 home and 86 RBIs.

Penny, 26, was traded from Florida to the Dodgers last 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.

Penny was selected in the fifth round of Arizona's initial free agent draft in 1996 but never pitched for the Diamondbacks in the majors. He, right-hander Vladimir Nunez and outfielder Abraham Nunez (as a player to be named) were traded to Florida for closer Matt Mantei in July 1999.

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

Navarro also made his big league debut this year. He was considered, along with Duncan, among the top prospects in the Yankees' system.


Associated Press writers Bob Baum in Phoenix, Josh Dubow in San Francisco and John Nadel in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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