Green looks forward to new opportunity
Arizona completed its two lingering trades Tuesday, sending the Big Unit to the New York Yankees for Vazquez, pitcher Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and $9 million. The Diamondbacks then dealt Navarro to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with right-handers William Juarez, Danny Muegge and Beltran Perez for Green and $10 million.
"We had said for some time if we were to make a decision to trade Randy Johnson, which was a difficult decision to be sure, that we wanted to obtain good starting pitching and another front-line player as a minimum," Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick said. "We think we achieved our goal with Javy and with Shawn."
Johnson, who helped lead Arizona to the 2001 World Series title, said the Diamondbacks asked him to take a 50 percent cut in his 2005 salary -- $16 million -- in order to get an extension. At a news conference in New York, he said he never had the chance to meet with the Diamondbacks' new management headed by incoming CEO Jeff Moorad, and he praised former CEO Jerry Colangelo, who persuaded him to sign with Arizona before the 1999 season.
"We're sorry to see Randy go and we wish him the best," Kendrick said. "The players that we obtained for Randy Johnson will make us a better team than we would have been had we kept Randy Johnson, no disrespect intended to Randy by that comment."
In addition, the Diamondbacks agreed with left-hander Shawn Estes on a $2.5 million, one-year contract and were close to trading Shea Hillenbrand to the Toronto Blue Jays. Both deals were expected to be announced Wednesday, according to a baseball official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
With the $19 million Arizona is receiving in Tuesday's trades, the team essentially got Vazquez and Green at a discount. Owing millions of dollars in deferred payments, the Diamondbacks have been careful with their spending as they try to rebound from last season, when they went 51-111, tied for the 10th-most losses in major league history.
"We think we're on our way but have a mountain that we inherited, so that we have to be very diligent and focus on each move that we make and be very sensitive to the economics of every decision," Kendrick said.
Green, who agreed to the trade after getting a $32 million, three-year contract that runs through 2007, said he was excited to join the Diamondbacks. He had been the subject of trade rumors since the end of the season.
"I couldn't be happier with the change for me," he said. "The team that I was really hoping would work out is Arizona. It's my favorite park to play in and it's my favorite city to come to. It was a perfect fit for me and for my family."
Green has a .314 average and .629 slugging percentage at Bank One Ballpark with 14 homers and 40 RBI in 175 at-bats, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"I just see the ball really well here with the background," he said. "L.A. was great for the five years I was there. But, obviously, it was time to move on. There's no secret about that. It's close. Spring training is out here in Arizona, obviously, and to play a 45-minute flight from where all our family is is great."
Green, a two-time All-Star, waived his no-trade clause to allow the trade to be finalized.
"He has contributed some great seasons to the Dodgers, and we're proud that he wore the uniform," Los Angeles general manager Paul DePodesta said.
"Last year was a difficult year for the Diamondbacks, but there's been so much change," Green said. "Once I saw that my former agent, Jeff Moorad, was kind of getting things going here, little ideas starting popping up in my head. I knew he would put together a great ballclub and get the organization back on track.
"I haven't been on a team with as balanced of a lineup as this is turning out to be," Green said. "I mean, you've got three guys in the middle of the lineup who've all hit over 40 home runs -- Gonzo over 50 home runs -- and then, obviously, some young talent; guys like (Chad) Tracy. And you've got a guy like Counsell who does the little things, and there's just a lot of veteran guys who go about their business.
"There's no superstar egos, which a lot of teams run into trouble with that, and I just think it's going to be a great mix."
Green, 32, was acquired by the Dodgers from Toronto in November 1999 and hit 162 homers in five years, giving him 281 for his career. Coming off surgery on his right shoulder, he batted .266 last year with 28 homers and 86 RBI. He hit 18 homers after the All-Star break.
"Character counts, and I think all of us in sports really need to focus on that," Kendrick said. "And if that element figures in all decisions, then I think players will realize the importance of it, and maybe that in itself can have some impact on making a change for the better."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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