Yanks, D-Backs left to dream up trade again

Updated: December 22, 2004, 12:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Dodgers withdrew Tuesday from the proposed three-team, 10-player trade that would have sent Randy Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the New York Yankees, who then criticized Los Angeles for "reneging" on the deal.

"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."

Yankees president Randy Levine had harsh words for the Dodgers after the deal's collapse.

"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," 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."

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.

Newsday reported on its Web site Tuesday night that Vazquez did not want to play for the Dodgers and refused to travel to Los Angeles for a physical. The paper, citing a source involved in the discussions, cited that as the "primary reason" for the deal's failure.

"Javy is one of the players in this potential trade who had absolutely no choice in the process," the pitcher's agent, Sam Levinson said. "Javy was available after the holidays for examination purposes."

Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick wouldn't comment on the Dodgers' decision. Johnson has asked for a trade, and Kendrick intends to resolve the Big Unit'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.

This leaves the Yankees and the Diamondbacks to consider other ways to trade Johnson to the Yankees.

Already, the Diamondbacks are believed to be seeking another third party to replace the Dodgers, fueled by a desire to move the Big Unit's salary once and for all. One major league executive familiar with the talks told ESPN.com that Arizona ownership had already been in contact with several teams late Tuesday night.

The other possibility, of course, is that Arizona and the Yankees will attempt to complete the deal on their own -- although they've failed thus far.

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, 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.

Sources told ESPN that they believed the Dodgers had been holding up the paperwork process.

"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."

Diamondbacks officials didn't return telephone calls seeking comment.

Yankees officials weren't available following DePodesta's announcement. Principal owner George Steinbrenner, president Randy Levine and GM Brian Cashman were in Tampa, Fla., meeting with free-agent center fielder Carlos Beltran. An offer to Beltran was not made, although one is expected to come at a later date. Beltran is scheduled to meet with other teams.

"We were probably the most deliberate in approaching it, and at the end of the day, it just wasn't going to come together and make sense for us," DePodesta said.

Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner, has asked the Diamondbacks to trade him, but it's not clear whether the 41-year-old left-hander would accept a deal to any team other than the Yankees. He has a no-trade clause.

DePodesta said it was possible the Dodgers might get back involved in the trade, but he likely wouldn't be the one to initiate additional talks.

"Probably only if they call us," he said. "I don't think we'll actively pursue, but if they come after us, I'm sure we'll listen, as we would in any other case."

DePodesta said the Dodgers had not been looking to trade Green, and that he will speak with the outfielder.

"I'm looking forward to making a call to some of the guys and telling them to settle down and not be concerned with being traded," he said.

A baseball source told ESPN's Karl Ravech Tuesday night that Green has no desire to finish his career with the Dodgers and that the outfielder does not plan to re-sign with Los Angeles when his contract expires after the 2005 season.

According to the source, Green appeared ready to waive his no-trade clause to report to the Diamondbacks as part of the Johnson deal. And now that the deal has fallen apart, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have already begun discussions on a stand-alone trade to send Green to Arizona. Details of the exact components of the trade are not yet known.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.