Unit agrees to new deal; physical on tap Monday

Updated: January 8, 2007, 10:54 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Only a few details remain before Randy Johnson rejoins the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Venomous again?
Randy Johnson
Randy Johnson won four Cy Young awards with the Diamondbacks and helped Arizona win the World Series in 2001. But he wasn't the same pitcher with the Yankees the past two seasons. The D-Backs are hoping the Big Unit can return to his pre-2005 form. Randy Johnson since 1999:
Seasons 6 2
W-L 103-49 34-19
ERA 2.65 4.37
K per 9 IP 11.7 8.0
Run Support 4.6 6.0

Johnson agreed Sunday to a $26 million, two-year contract with Arizona, leaving only physicals and final approvals to complete his trade from the New York Yankees.

Johnson was to take his physical Monday, and the trade likely will be finalized Tuesday. Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes confirmed the agreement but otherwise declined comment until after the medical information is reviewed.

New York, which acquired the Big Unit from Arizona two years ago, would receive reliever Luis Vizcaino, minor league right-handers Ross Ohlendorf and Steven Jackson, and minor league shortstop Alberto Gonzalez.

"We're very excited and very happy for Randy. We think it's a win-win for everybody," said Alan Nero, who represents Johnson along with Barry Meister. "It was very complex because there was a lot of legal work -- it was the third time the contract has been redone. Other than that, I think it went very smoothly."

Elias Says
Only five pitchers in major-league history have won as many as 10 games in a season at age 44 or older: Nolan Ryan (1991), Tommy John (1987), Phil Niekro (1983-1986), Satchel Paige (1952) and Jack Quinn (1928-1929). Randy Johnson will turn 44 in September.

• Read more Elias Says.

Johnson, a 43-year-old left-hander who lives in the Phoenix area, was owed $16 million this year in the final season of his January 2005 contract with the Yankees, a deal that called for $1.5 million to be deferred without interest until 2010.

Because of the cash involved, commissioner Bud Selig must approve the trade. The players' association also might want to review the restructuring of his contract.

If the trade goes through, Johnson would join an Arizona starting rotation that includes reigning Cy Young winner Brandon Webb, Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis. In their only other major move in the offseason, the Diamondbacks acquired the left-handed Davis from Milwaukee in a six-player deal that sent catcher Johnny Estrada to the Brewers.

Johnson's new deal calls for a $12 million signing bonus, of which $3.5 million is payable this year, $500,000 in 2008 and $4 million each in 2009 and 2010, a baseball official with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the terms weren't disclosed in Sunday's announcement. Johnson gets salaries of $4 million this year and $10 million in 2008.

As part of the trade, New York would pay $2 million of Johnson's salary this year. That means Arizona would be responsible for $24 million: $5.5 million this year, $10.5 million in 2008 and $4 million each in 2009 and 2010.

What's next for Yankees?
So what's in store for the Yankees in the post-Randy Johnson era? The uncharacteristic stockpiling of prospects continues, but the starting rotation is nevertheless being held together by a series of hopeful assumptions -- which is another way of saying the Bombers are saying their prayers. Bob Klapisch

In addition, the Diamondbacks owe the five-time Cy Young Award winner just over $44 million, including accrued interest, from 2007-12. That money was earned by Johnson when he pitched for Arizona from 1999-2004, winning four Cy Youngs.

Johnson, who has a no-trade clause, had until 5 p.m. ET Sunday to reach an extension under a 72-hour window granted Thursday by the commissioner's office. His agents held several telephone discussions with the Diamondbacks to reach the agreement.

Johnson's new agreement came two years and one day after he agreed to his extension with the Yankees. He went 103-49 with the Diamondbacks and helped them beat the Yankees in the 2001 World Series, going 3-0 against New York. He went 17-11 with a 5.00 ERA last season, and had back surgery Oct. 26.

He failed to win both of his postseason starts with the Yankees, and on Friday the Daily News ran a back-page headline that read: "GOOD RIDDANCE."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press