Sports Outside the Beltway

Randy Johnson Traded to Diamondbacks

Randy Johnson is headed home. USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale:

The Arizona Diamondbacks expect to complete a deal with the New York Yankees by the end of the week to bring back pitcher Randy Johnson, a high-ranking Diamondbacks official familiar with the negotiations told USA TODAY.

The clubs have agreed on the package of players the Diamondbacks will send to the Yankees, according to a club official from each team — two minor league pitchers and a major league reliever. The deal has not been completed because of money issues, including how much the Yankees will pay toward Johnson’s $16 million contract in 2007.

The Diamondbacks official also said they would like to sign Johnson to a one-year extension that would be a pay cut from his ’07 salary, as well as restructure the $40 million deferred payments the left-hander is owed from his 1999-2004 stint with the team.

A lot of things could still go wrong with this deal, although it seems that both sides really want to make this happen.

This is a good move by both teams in my opinion. The Yanks now have the money (as if they didn’t anyway!), roster spot, and the team gets younger. The players I believe the Yanks are getting are reliever Luis Vizcaino, minor league SP Dustin Nippert, and possibly minor league SP Russ Ohlendorf.

The Diamondbacks now get someone who can bring in ticket sales, could get his 300th win in a D-Back jersey, and a pitcher who still has flashes of dominance and gets to face pitchers not DHs anymore.

The biggest obstacle is obviously the money. The Yanks will have to pay some his ’07 salary, especially since they are getting a major league reliever and two of Arizona’s top pitching prospects.

I think the deal will get worked out and both clubs, especially the Yanks, will come out winners in this deal.

Ennuipundit adds:

The clubs have agreed on the package of players the Diamondbacks will send to the Yankees, according to a club official from each team — two minor league pitchers and a major league reliever.

The major league reliever could be any of the D-Backs bullpen, including Juan Cruz, the much traveled former Cubs farmhand who pitched well in Arizona. Arizona had already improved their rotation dealing Johnny Estrada for Doug Davis in a six-player deal this offseason. Johnson would join Davis, Livan Hernandez and staff ace Brandon Webb leaving one spot left for one of Arizona’s pitching prospects. MLB’s Diamondbacks site describes that young pitching depth.

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….

Nippert is the best of the lot and I would expect the D-Backs to hold on to him. Enrique Gonzalez and Micah Owings are the next two on my list of Arizona pitching prospects, and both are very intriguing. They are power pitchers. Both have good minor league K-rates. Gonzalez tamed the batting inflating California League as he progressed through the system. Owings was undefeated as Tucson this season. The Cal league and the PCL are leagues that pitchers typically struggle in.

My guess is that Juan Cruz, Micah Owings and Enrique Gonzalez will be New York Yankees. Owings and Gonzalez would join Philip Hughes and Humberto Sanchez as young power arms being groomed for an extended stay in pinstripes. Arizona will insist on New York picking up some amount of Johnson’s 2007 salary, and in that case New York deserves some good talent in exchange.

The ever shifting balance of power in the NL West would get more murky. In a division without a dominant runaway leader, everyone has a shot. If they acquired Johnson, Arizona would have the best rotation, to go with a young talented lineup and a solid bullpen. They become the prohibitive favorites with San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco not far off pace.

For the Yankees this deal pares salary which could easily be used to acquire another aging right handed pitcher, one who has proven that he can handle the pressure of pitching in New York – Roger Clemens. As the Red Sox rotation looks set and the Astros have all but walked away from Clemens, the Yankees are the last best option for the future Hall of Famer. Clemens, Mussina, Wang, Igawa and Pettitte would be a fearsome rotation. And with Hughes and the young pitching talent acquired by dealing Sheffield and to be acquired in a Johnson deal developing to step in when Pettitte, Clemens and Mussina decide to stop pitching, the Yankees are poised to remain King of the Hill, top of the heap for the foreseeable future.

Depending on how much money the Diamondbacks want from the Yankees and how much money Randy Johnson is willing to sacrifice to get out of his New York nightmare, this deal makes sense for everyone involved. Most of the time those deals get done. Expect Johnson to be reintroduced to D-back fans soon.

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We disagree on the players involved, Jonathan, but we both see this shaping up the same way.

Posted by Ennuipundit | January 3, 2007 | 12:42 pm | Permalink

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