December 31, 2004


Yankees Continue Refurbishing With a Luxury Unit: Proving they don't need Dodgers' help, New York, Arizona agree on trade to bring Johnson to Bronx. (Tim Brown, December 31, 2004, LA Times)

According to a baseball official familiar with the negotiations, the Yankees will get Johnson, who has grown impatient with the rebuilding Diamondbacks but would waive his no-trade clause only for the Yankees.

In return, the Diamondbacks will get Vazquez, left-hander Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and about $9 million, ostensibly to cover much of Vazquez's salary next season.

The terms are expected to be forwarded to Commissioner Bud Selig as soon as today. Selig must approve the trade because of the cash involved.

The players must undergo and pass physical examinations. As compensation for lifting his no-trade clause, Johnson is expected to negotiate a two-year contract extension worth about $32 million with the Yankees, to be settled in a 72-hour window granted by the commissioner's office. Because of those details, the trade is not expected to be announced until next week. [...]

Along with Johnson, who could cost them $16 million in each of the next three seasons, the Yankees signed free-agent pitchers Carl Pavano (four years, $40 million) and Jaret Wright (three years, $21 million) and traded for relievers Mike Stanton and Felix Rodriguez. They also signed second baseman Tony Womack and are in the bidding for center fielder Carlos Beltran, expected to be the most expensive free agent of the off-season.

Even without Beltran, the Yankee payroll will be well more than $200 million, some of that tied up in Jason Giambi, who is due at least $82 million over the next five seasons, but whose status is unclear after he allegedly admitted steroid use in a federal grand jury hearing. The Yankees' pursuit of free-agent first baseman Tino Martinez would suggest Giambi's immediate future in New York, at least, is in doubt.

He's 41 and doesn't exactly have the mechanics of Seaver/Koosman/Ryan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 31, 2004 8:00 AM

The signing of A-Rod last year was to usher in another golden age of championships for NY. Didn't happen and there are rumblings A-Rod isn't well liked by Jeter and others.

I like Johnson but giving a ton of money to a 41 yr old pitcher with health problems doesn't seem to be the way to go.

Posted by: AWW at December 31, 2004 9:11 AM

His name will put butts in seats. For that reason alone Big Stein will pursue almost any player. Including A-Rod who isn't really "Yankee material."

Posted by: Bartman at December 31, 2004 9:22 AM


Give the Red Sox fans one World Championship in 85 years, and now they all of sudden are cocky trash talkers.

Posted by: h-man at December 31, 2004 9:48 AM

Just imagine a Schilling/Johnson game at Fenway in September.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 31, 2004 10:06 AM

General von Steingrabber(thank you Bill Gallo) has decided to forget every lesson he seemed to have learned in the late 90s. He is trading his prospects away for players whose abilities are suspect and who may not have the emotional wherewithal to play in Yankee Stadium. The decision to sign Tino at the relative bargain basement price of 2.5 million is wise though. At his advanced age, he is a better Doug Mintkiewicz.

With the acquisition of Renteria, it can now be affirmatively stated that the Sox have by far the better shortstop between theirs and Jeter. However, the Yankees could certainly win this year. In any event, since Oakland is rebuilding, it is a 2 team race.

Posted by: Bart at December 31, 2004 10:12 AM

While I would say that fans of any team that signs David Wells two a two-year cotract shouldn't be talking about Randy Johnson's aging body, there's no doubt that the Yankees really, really need to get Howie Spria back into action so they'll have some time to rebuild their utterly-barren minor league farm system and won't have to go out and hire players in their late 30s and early 40s to patch holes every winter.

Posted by: John at December 31, 2004 10:35 AM

Payroll size and winning championships are highly correlated but I wouldn't be surprised if a team other than the Yankees or Red Sox represent the AL in the Series.

On a related note I remember one of the commenters during the ACLS (McCarver maybe) saying that Rivera, being a dominant closer, was responsible for 10-15 Yankee wins and that without him the Yankees were an average team. If Rivera begins to drop off (as he did during the ACLS) the Yankees will have some problems even with a better rotation.

Posted by: AWW at December 31, 2004 10:40 AM

Johnson will have trouble in the early season

He had that problem in Seattle at times.

Pedro basically suffered from the same problem.

Posted by: J.H. at December 31, 2004 11:21 AM

The Yankees really have no prospects or young players left, do they? Expensive way to run a ballclub.

Posted by: John Thacker at December 31, 2004 11:51 AM

The Yankee farm system has been dreadful for about 5 years now. The Yankee resurgence was the result of an excellent farm system supplemented by wise free agent signings. The mercenary approach didn't work in the 80s, it never worked for the Red Sox and it won't work now.

Unless one can clearly show that the perceived invincibility of Rivera caused other teams to change the way they play, e.g. taking abnormal chances in early innings, I don't see how one can say Rivera is worth more than 4 or 5 wins than an average closer.

I don't see a serious challenger to either the Red Sox or the Yankees in the AL.

Posted by: Bart at December 31, 2004 12:15 PM

Early season chill? Huh? When he was in Seattle, he played indoors in the late, unlamented Kingdome. (On whose 1990s repairs we are still paying.)

I did see a night game in April with the roof open a couple years ago, and it was nippy. Too bad the schedulers don't put in more day games in the spring.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 31, 2004 5:56 PM