Johnson trade falls through

Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2004

NEW YORK - Confident their deal to acquire Randy Johnson had been finalized, top Yankees' officials headed to Florida on Tuesday to see Carlos Beltran. By the time their meeting with the star outfielder was over, the trade for the Big Unit had fallen through.

The Los Angeles Dodgers reversed course Tuesday and withdrew from the proposed three-team, 10-player trade that would have sent Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Yankees.

''As we sit here right now, the deal is no more,'' Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said during a conference call. ''I've been saying all along that we weren't going to do the deal unless it made sense for this club in 2005, and that was not the case.''

Los Angeles would have received right-hander Javier Vazquez from the Yankees along with two top prospects, catcher Dioner Navarro and third baseman Eric Duncan. The Dodgers also would have gotten pitcher Mike Koplove from Arizona.

Arizona would have obtained outfielder Shawn Green and pitchers Brad Penny, Yhency Brazoban and Brandon Weeden from the Dodgers. Along with Johnson, the Yankees would have gotten pitcher Kaz Ishii from Los Angeles.

''The Dodgers reneged on the deal that was agreed to last Friday, unequivocally and with no contingencies except for a window for contract extensions and physicals,'' Yankees president Randy Levine said. ''For some reason, the Dodgers over the weekend started to backpedal. Why they would break their word is only something they can answer. It sure is disappointing, and we'll have to think long and hard before ever doing business with the Dodgers again.''

Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick wouldn't comment on the Dodgers' decision. He intends to resolve Johnson's situation by the end of the month.

''We don't think it's a healthy thing for us or for him for the uncertainty of his situation to continue into next year,'' Kendrick said.

Levine and general manager Brian Cashman went to Florida to join owner George Steinbrenner in the meeting with Beltran, likely to get the largest contract among this offseason's free agents. The session at Legends Field in Tampa, which also included agent Scott Boras, lasted about one hour, and no offers were made.

Earlier in the day, an official of one of the teams and a person close to one of the players involved in the trade said the deal had been submitted early Tuesday to baseball commissioner Bud Selig for approval. The two spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said the Dodgers gave the go-ahead to finalize the trade late Monday and early Tuesday, when two conference calls were held. One call involved the general managers and baseball executive vice president Sandy Alderson, and the other included ownership representatives and Selig.

''We went over various considerations and most of the details of the proposed transaction,'' Alderson said. ''I expected to have a follow-up this morning, and that never occurred.''

The Yankees even told Vazquez's agent that the deal had been submitted for approval, causing the agent to tell the pitcher he had been traded.

But Pat Courtney, a spokesman in the commissioner's office, said in the afternoon that more documentation had to be submitted before Selig could consider the complex transaction, and the Dodgers then held a conference call to announce their withdrawal.

''There were specific things in this deal that didn't work out,'' DePodesta said. ''There were a lot of things to work out, a lot of things that were tentatively agreed on, but still details that we needed to work through.''

In free agent news, third baseman Joe Randa agreed Tuesday to a $2.15 million, one-year contract with Cincinnati, and Colorado agreed to one-year contracts that kept catcher Todd Greene ($750,000) and right-hander Jamey Wright ($550,000) with the Rockies.

In addition, the Yankees finalized their $4 million, two-year contract with second baseman Tony Womack, a deal agreed to Dec. 7. New York also reached a preliminary agreement with right-hander Tanyon Sturtze on a one-year deal worth about $850,000 and called a news conference for Wednesday to finalize its $39.95 million, four-year contract with right-hander Carl Pavano.

On Monday, 41 players became free agents when their teams failed to offer 2005 contracts, a group that included Josh Phelps of Cleveland, Eric Munson of Detroit, Scott Schoeneweis of the Chicago White Sox and Alex Cora of Los Angeles.

Several of those cut loose agreed Tuesday to stay with their teams, moves that got around baseball's maximum cut rule. Those who agreed to re-sign included Chicago White Sox catcher Ben Davis ($1 million) and Philadelphia reliever Amaury Telemaco ($600,000).

A flurry of players agreed to re-sign just before the deadline, including Minnesota's Jacque Jones ($5 million), second baseman Luis Rivas ($1,625,000) and designated hitter Matthew LeCroy ($750,000).

Others who agreed to re-sign late Monday included Cincinnati infielder D'Angelo Jimenez ($2.87 million); Baltimore outfielder Jay Gibbons ($2.6 million) and pitcher Bruce Chen ($550,000); Pittsburgh first baseman Daryle Ward ($950,000); New York Mets catcher Vance Wilson ($760,000); Los Angeles infielder Olmedo Saenz ($650,000) and pitcher Giovanni Carrara ($550,000); and St. Louis pitcher Mike Lincoln ($360,000).

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