Progress in Johnson talks, but still slow motion...

Hope you enjoyed yesterday's break from staring at the entrails of the Johnson negotiations, trying to work out what they meant. That loop of colon. Is that Luis Vizcaino or Brandon Medders? There still does appear to be progress being, which I provide a quick summary of here: I'm not exactly feeling 100% having caught something from a work-colleague [a nasty but dumb trick by my employers: sick time comes off your vacation, so when they're ill, everyone still comes in, to infect other people. So it's entirely counter-productive, and likely leads to more days off, not less.]. Let's go with this report in Newsday:

The Yankees and Arizona have advanced far enough in their discussions that Johnson has already agreed, in principle, to a contract extension for 2008 with the Diamondbacks... Johnson, 43, who is set to make $16 million this season, has accepted -- through back-channel conversations -- a $10-million salary for 2008, in return for waiving his no-trade clause. It's possible that Johnson will help out the Diamondbacks and defer some of his 2007 salary.

It has been established, furthermore, that the Yankees will receive veteran reliever Luis Vizcaino in the deal. As of last night, however, it had not yet been determined which highly regarded young pitcher -- most likely either Dustin Nippert, Ross Ohlendorf or Micah Owings -- would join Vizcaino in heading to New York. The more the Yankees agree to pay Arizona as part of the deal, the more talented a package they will reap.

That appears to be an accurate summary of the situation at the moment, and is echoed by other sources like the Tribune later on. Firstly, I'm pleased that it appears we're sending Vizcaino rather than Medders: the latter is younger, better and cheaper than the former. Indeed, as referenced in the "trades" thread, Medders has the second-best ERA+ (151) of any Diamondbacks pitcher with more than 100 innings for us, trailing only Johnson (171). Definitely worth hanging on to him.

Contrary to reports yesterday, it appears the 72-hour window for official negotiation has not officially openend, though it seems there have been talks and, it appears, even a preliminary agreement. That would not be the end of it, since there's still the potentially-tricky medical to pass. As Jack Magruder writes in the Tribune, "While the medical seems straightforward enough, the D-Backs had two trades fall through last season because of medical red flags." Interesting: I don't recall hearing about those before.

So we've dodged one bullet in replacing Medders with Vizcaino. Now, can we dodge the other and hang on to Owings? If Byrnes does that, still gets cash from the Yankees, and signs Johnson for $10m in 2008, then I think we'll have to give him a hearty "Well done!". For that would seem to be about the best we could have done here. The general opinion, going by the poll, seems to be that Johnson is still worth acquiring, at the right price. If we end up giving the Yankees someone like Ohlendorf, who barely rates in our top twenty prospects, I could certainly live with that.

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