Randy Johnson's five-month journey from Arizona to New York may finally pick up speed today.
The paperwork certifying a trade agreement between the Diamondbacks and New York Yankees could be submitted to the commissioner's office as soon as today.
Two industry sources said Wednesday the Yankees were close to acquiring Johnson, one saying, “it's almost done from what I understand,” and another that the teams were “closing the gap.”
The deal is expected to send right-hander Javier Vazquez, lefty Brad Halsey, a top Yankees prospect and close to $10 million to the D-Backs. “We are having discussions,” Diamondbacks general partner Ken Kendrick said. “Now that Randy is back from his holiday (trip out of the country) we are keeping Randy and his representatives fully informed. We're going to come to a final solution here in the next few days.”
The first industry source said the D-Backs may look to trade Halsey to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a swap for outfielder Shawn Green and right-hander Brad Penny — two players who were supposed to come to Arizona in the three-team trade the Dodgers pulled out of last week.
The Yankees may be including catching prospect Dioner Navarro as part of the package for Johnson, and Navarro could have appeal to the Dodgers, since he would have gone to Los Angeles in the aborted trade.
The D-Backs could also wind up flipping Vazquez — who desires to play in the East — to another team. Philadelphia, Baltimore and the Chicago White Sox may have interest.
But that will not necessarily happen, and no domino-effect trade is in place, one source said.
The Diamondbacks insist any deal would be made to better the team, not merely to accommodate Johnson's desire to go to the Yankees.
Vazquez, 28, has $34.5 million remaining on his contract: $10.5 million next year, $11.5 million in 2006 and $12.5 million in 2007. He was an All-Star this year, going 10-5 with a 3.56 ERA in the first half, but then slumped to finish 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA.
Halsey, who turns 24 in February, was 1-3 with a 6.47 ERA in eight games (seven starts) this year for New York. With Class AAA Columbus, he was 11-4 with a 2.63 ERA — second-best in the International League — 109 strikeouts and 37 walks in 144 innings. He has a career minor-league record of 34-14 with a 3.26 ERA.
According to the 2005 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, Halsey is “a strike-thrower with an 87-90 mph fastball, a slider (his best pitch) and a change-up. However, none of them is a knockout pitch and Halsey usually is around the plate too much. He lacks the stuff to challenge good big league hitters on a consistent basis.”
Arizona has interest in New York minor league third baseman Eric Duncan, recently named the Yankees top prospect by Baseball America. A first-round draft pick in 2003, Duncan this year hit a combined .258 with 43 doubles, 16 homers and 83 RBIs for two Class A teams.
Johnson, 41, has requested a trade to the Yankees since at least July. New York would presumably be granted a 72-hour window next week in which to negotiate a contract extension with Johnson, perhaps for two years and $32 million. The Diamondbacks have not been able to meet Johnson's asking price for an extension.
Johnson won the NL Cy Young Award in his first four seasons with Arizona (1999-2002) and was second in this year's voting. He leads the majors in strikeouts over the past five years (1,468) and 10 years (2,831). Johnson is the Diamondbacks’ all-time franchise leader in wins (103), ERA (2.65), innings (1,389), strikeouts (1,832), starts (192), complete games (36) and shutouts (14).