D-backs confirm trade talks with Yanks
Arizona interested in Johnson, but doesn't like asking price
PHOENIX -- The D-backs spoke over the past week with the Yankees about a deal that would have brought left-handed pitcher Randy Johnson back to the desert, but the two sides have struggled to reach an agreement on the players Arizona would send to New York.
"[Arizona GM Josh Byrnes] has had significant talks with the Yankees, but we have not been able to make a match at this point," D-backs team president Derrick Hall said.
The Yankees apparently have interest in some of Arizona's young starting pitchers as well as a reliever. The D-backs have been reluctant to part with their younger pitchers this offseason despite being approached by several clubs about them during and after the Winter Meetings.
Tuesday's New York Times, citing a baseball official, reported the Yankees have also spoken to the Padres and a third club, believed to be the Giants. A deal involving the Padres would likely include reliever Scott Linebrink.
The Dodgers and Angels could also be in the mix, according to the New York Daily News.
If the Yankees were to shed Johnson's contract, it's speculated they would join the bidding for 28-year-old free agent southpaw Barry Zito.
The D-backs had planned on entering Spring Training with Edgar Gonzalez, Enrique Gonzalez, Dustin Nippert, Ross Ohlendorf, Micah Owings, Dana Eveland, Evan MacLane and Juan Cruz competing for the final two spots in the rotation behind Brandon Webb, Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis.
"It shows the wealth of talent we have when the Yankees are interested in several of the pitchers who we feel will help our ballclub this year," Hall said without citing specific players. "For the same reason, we obviously have an interest in protecting that talent without sacrificing too much."
The Yankees may be willing to deal Johnson because of the depth they have in their rotation. Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Kei Igawa are projected starters, and they also have Carl Pavano -- who the team hopes is healthy after injury troubles the past two seasons -- and several young pitchers that could compete for a starting spot.
As he did with the D-backs, Johnson has a no-trade clause in his contract and would have to approve any deal. With 280 career wins, the 10-time All-Star is entering the final year of a contract extension he signed after joining the Yankees. Johnson will make $16 million next year. Of that total, $1.5 million is deferred without interest through 2010.
A member of Johnson's management team said he got a call from the Yankees on Monday confirming that the Bronx Bombers have had preliminary discussions with several teams regarding the left-hander.
"I just had one conversation with [Yankees GM] Brian [Cashman], and that's it," one of Johnson's agents, Alan Nero, told The Associated Press. "As far we know, there's nothing going on significant enough for us to become a part of it. I think Brian is just doing his job."
Johnson pitched for the D-backs from 1999-2004 before being dealt to the Yankees. Johnson's tenure in Arizona was filled with accomplishment as he won four NL Cy Young Awards and was named co-MVP of the 2001 World Series, a seven-game classic against the Yankees.
In 2004, Johnson went 16-14 with a 2.60 ERA for a D-backs team that lost 111 games and finished second to Roger Clemens in the Cy Young voting. In the offseason, the D-backs dealt him to the Yankees in exchange for right-hander Javier Vazquez, lefty Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and cash. The D-backs then traded Navarro and three Minor Leaguers to the Dodgers for outfielder Shawn Green and cash.
In two seasons with the Yankees, Johnson is 34-19 with a 4.37 ERA, including a 5.01 ERA in 2006.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.