Another day, another...well, not very much, really. Doesn't look like anything will officially be announced on the Johnson front until Tuesday at the earliest. The commissioner's office is closed until then, and they would have to approve any deal in which a significant amount of cash changed hands, as this is almost certain to do. So, we can expect a lot more speculation, but probably little in the way of solid facts, until then. As far as we know, the D'backs haven't even been given the go-ahead to talk to the Big Unit about an extension for 2008 - he's currently holidaying in Hawaii. And I wouldn't say Randy passing the medical was a foregone conclusion - so we could still be some days from signing anything. Sigh...
Let's go through the latest reports, in descending order of credibility. In the Tribune today, Jack Magruder writes that the Yankees "are believed to be seeking a pair from among reliever Brandon Medders and starters Dustin Nippert, Ross Ohlendorf and Micah Owings." If we're down to two players, this would reduce the amount of money we get back, but I can live with that. If NY are insisting on Medders, I'd demand AZ gets to choose the other prospect, which I would personally put in this order: 1) Nippert; 2) Ohlendorf; 3) Owings. That and $4m in cash would be tolerable. On the other hand, if they want a specific prospect, then they get Vizcaino instead of Medders.
Interesting note in that story: "Johnson has a full notrade clause and must OK any trade, but it is believed he would be amenable, especially if the D-Backs restructure payments of the $40 million in deferred compensation to speed up dispersal. Johnson's deferments are believed to go through 2012." The danger of this approach is that it could limit our room for manoever at the end of 2007, when we will probably have to look at replacing Hernandez 2.0 and Davis, who'll be free agents. Even if we get Johnson for 2008, he is not the long-term future of the franchise, and I'm very reluctant to carry out any action which would imperil us there.
There's a piece on SI.com, where Jon Heyman says something interesting about the Yankees' need to trade Johnson: "The Yankees' efforts in trying to trade Johnson could enhance their chances to land Clemens. Beyond the fact that by trading Johnson they would free up dollars, word is that Clemens doesn't particularly like Johnson to the point where he might even prefer to go to Boston or stay in Houston if the Yankees fail to unload The Big Unit." This would appear to tilt the balance towards AZ, though if they don't trade Johnson, could the Yankees afford to take on Clemens' salary as well, even the above isn't true?
The piece also mentions that Johnson is looking for $12m in 2008, which if he is as good as I'm hoping he'll be, would be okay. However, other reports suggest Randy wants more than that - his agent is now not commenting on whether negotiations with Arizona have begun, a change in stance from previous denials. This is backed up by the New York Daily News, who write, "The Yankees' possible trade of Randy Johnson...has slowed over the structuring of a potential contract extension for Johnson, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations." They also say that the Padres aren't out of the running, but I think this is NY-BS, to try and convince Arizona they aren't the only players in the game.
Finally, if you want every unsubtantiated whisper under the sun, head over to MVN.com, where you can read that "Conor Jackson will be coming to New York" and "The Yankees will be sending a second player over to Arizona in this deal." The comments on that story - including ones from "Darryl Strawberry" are a most amusing reality-check, though even the writer has now backed off the Jackson suggestion.
To summarize, at the moment, I would say the most feasible scenario appears to be something like Medders and Nippert, for Johnson and about $4m in cash. But we'll see how things progress over the next couple of days. Good though this certainly all is for the number of visitors here, let's hope this gets resolved sooner, rather than later. And that's a wrap for 2006; all the best to everyone for 2007, and may the new year bring you all you wish for. Unless you're a Yankees fan, of course. ;-)