Yankees soften take on why trade fell apart

Updated: December 22, 2004, 8:53 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks are not looking for a new partner to create a three-team trade that would send Randy Johnson to the New York Yankees and may keep the Big Unit for 2005.

Arizona managing partner Ken Kendrick said Wednesday he planned to put aside Johnson talks until after Christmas.

"We're all in a holiday mode starting today, basically," Kendrick said. "You never know what to expect in the baseball world, but I think right now our focus is to get to our families and let everybody have a little down time."

The Los Angeles Dodgers reversed course Tuesday night and pulled out of a 10-player deal that would have sent Johnson to the New York Yankees, pitcher Javier Vazquez to the Dodgers and outfielder Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks.

"For some reason, the Dodgers over the weekend started to backpedal," Yankees president Randy Levine said late Tuesday night. "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."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman softened the rhetoric on Wednesday, and spelled out why he believes the deal collapsed. The Dodgers had signed off on the trade during a pair of conference calls late Monday night and early Tuesday.

"After everything seemed to be agreed upon by midnight Monday, the only way it could work is if you have physicals taken by a certain time Wednesday," Cashman said. "And that was not feasible -- the time of year we're at, Christmas week, people out of the country."

Attempts were made to schedule the physicals, but Vazquez and Kaz Ishii, who would have gone from the Dodgers to the Yankees, were out of the mainland United States.

"Everybody tried to make phone calls to see if it would work or not, but knowing that really going into it, there's no way this can work," Cashman said. "So it just didn't go forward because it never had life to go forward. That's really the sum and substance of it."

Cashman said the Yankees are "not out shopping Javy Vazquez" and said the pitcher would be moved only to obtain Johnson.

"We've had clubs interested in Javy Vazquez," Cashman said, "and there's only one situation we might consider moving him in."

The Diamondbacks remain committed to making all major personnel decisions by the end of the year or in early January. In the meantime, the team is not out looking for a third team to make the Johnson trade to the Yankees work, Kendrick said. But the Diamondbacks will listen to the ideas of others.

"This has been a very highly publicized situation," Kendrick said, "and if our phone rings, it's always our duty to kind of listen to what anybody has to say."

Johnson is due $16 million in the final year of his contract with Arizona and has indicated that he wants a trade to the Yankees. The Diamondbacks, though, will accept a trade only if it fits in the team's plans to immediately return to contention after its disastrous 2004 season, Kendrick said.

"We're going to be sensitive to his interests," Kendrick said, "but we're not going to make a decision that we don't believe is in the interest of the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks come first."

Alan Nero, one of Johnson's agents, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The Diamondbacks think Johnson's professionalism, and Arizona's recent upgrade in talent, would prevent any problems if he pitches for the Diamondbacks in 2005.

"We have always said that we would be proud to have Randy here as our opening-day pitcher this year," Kendrick said. "As of this moment, that is exactly what will happen."

At some point, Kendrick said, the Diamondbacks might halt all trade considerations and declare Johnson will be with Arizona when the 2005 season begins.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press