Sat, Jan 08, 2005 - Page 18 News List

NY Yankees continue to pursue Randy Johnson

AP , NEW YORK

Randy Johnson moved within one step of joining the New York Yankees, and the Houston Astros said Thursday they've made their final offer to Carlos Beltran.

The Big Unit and the Yankees reached a preliminary agreement on a US$32 million, two-year contract extension. For Arizona and the Yankees to finalize the trade they agreed to Dec. 30, all players involved must pass physicals.

Arizona will receive pitchers Javier Vazquez and Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and US$9 million for the 41-year-old left-hander.

As for Beltran, Astros general manager Tim Purpura didn't indicate whether the team had raised its proposal.

"The offer on the table is our final offer," he said. "We're not interested in going any higher."

Houston faces a midnight Saturday deadline to re-sign Beltran. After that, under baseball rules the Astros wouldn't be allowed to strike a deal with him until May 1.

Purpura said he and owner Drayton McLane spoke with Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, on Thursday. Purpura said he wasn't sure which way Beltran might be leaning.

"It's impossible to know where we stand in this kind of thing," he said. "We know that we're in the running, though."

Boras would not respond to Purpura's comments.

"Of the teams I'm negotiating with, I have received certain new proposals," he said, without going into specifics.

The New York Mets, who dispatched a delegation to Puerto Rico to meet with Beltran and Boras on Monday, also are trying to sign Beltran, and the Chicago Cubs also might be involved in the talks. The New York Yankees told Boras they would not focus on Beltran until after finalizing negotiations with Johnson.

Boras is seeking a deal worth more than US$100 million for the 27-year-old switch-hitter.

Purpura declined to discuss the amount of Houston's proposal.

"We feel it's a good offer," he said. "But to go any further wouldn't be prudent for the future of our organization."

Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner, waived his no-trade clause as part of the agreement negotiated by agents Barry Meister and Alan Nero, a baseball official and a person close to Johnson told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The Yankees, Diamondbacks and agents for the players were working Thursday on the logistics of arranging the medical exams, which probably won't take place until next week. They also were working on paperwork to account for the perks in Johnson's current contract, which calls for him to receive two courtside tickets for Phoenix Suns games through the 2010-2011 season and six premium tickets for all Diamondbacks games starting with the first season of his retirement through 2010.

Johnson's current deal, which is entering its final season, called for a US$16 million salary in 2005, of which US$6 million was deferred at 2 percent interest, with the money payable in 2010.

Arizona also had a preliminary agreement in place to trade Navarro and pitching prospect William Juarez to Los Angeles for outfielder Shawn Green and US$8 million. But that deal appeared to be falling apart because the Diamondbacks and Green failed to agree to an extension.

"The window has expired. There is no agreement," baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said.

Los Angeles and Arizona could attempt to restart those talks, however, and ask for a new window.

Diamondbacks general partner Ken Kendrick and Green's agent, Greg Genske, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

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