The New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon agreed in principle to a trade that would send five-time Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson back to Arizona, according to a source with knowledge of the talks.
The Yankees will receive right-handed reliever Luis Vizcaino, according to a Diamondbacks source, in a broader package with two minor leaguers.
Major League Baseball granted the Diamondbacks a 72-hour window to negotiate terms of an extension for Johnson, whose contract contains a full no-trade clause. That window expires Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern.
The Yankees will pay $2 million of Johnson's $16 million salary in 2007, according to a source who had seen the particulars of the deal. Citing two sources, Newsday reported Johnson and the Diamondbacks had agreed "through back-channel discussions" on a $10 million contract for 2008.
Johnson, 43, first must pass a physical. The 6-foot-10 left-hander had surgery to repair a herniated disk in November.
Johnson is 31st all-time with 280 career wins. Should he recover and remain healthy for two seasons, Johnson likely would win his 300th game with the Diamondbacks, for whom he won 103 games – and four of his Cy Young awards – from 1999-2004.
The Yankees are expected to receive two minor leaguers – 6-foot-4 right-hander Ross Ohlendorf and shortstop Alberto Gonzalez – who spent most of last season in double-A, in addition to Vizcaino. Vizcaino had a 3.58 ERA in 70 appearances for the Diamondbacks last season.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had serious talks with the San Diego Padres as well.
The trade of Johnson continues the recent trend by Cashman to reduce the Yankees' payroll while stocking the top end of the farm system.
In early November, he traded slugger Gary Sheffield to the Detroit Tigers for three minor-league pitchers. Less than a week later, the Yankees were outbid by the Boston Red Sox for the rights to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.
That said, the Yankees are believed to be interested in signing Roger Clemens, should the 348-game winner resume his career at 44.
Johnson would join Brandon Webb, the reigning National League Cy Young winner, Livan Hernandez, Doug Davis and Juan Cruz in the Diamondbacks' rotation.
Though he won 17 games for the Yankees in 2006, Johnson appeared to show the wear of age and his ailing back. His ERA was 5.00, the highest of his career, and he allowed 28 home runs, near his career high. He was worse in the postseason, allowing five runs in 5 2/3 innings in a division series start against the Detroit Tigers, who eliminated the Yankees in four games.