Thu, Jan 13, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Big trades create excitement ahead of baseball season

AP , NEW YORK

A month's work of trades and free-agent negotiations were finally completed Tuesday, when Randy Johnson, Carlos Beltran, Shawn Green, Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Juan Gonzalez found new homes.

Dioner Navarro, a 20-year-old catcher with seven major league at-bats, even got traded twice.

On a day when the Mets and Yankees combined for a news conference doubleheader, baseball dominated the New York sports scene, even with the Jets getting ready for their second-round matchup with Pittsburgh in the NFL playoffs.

In the morning at Shea Stadium, the Mets announced their US$119 million, seven-year contract with center fielder Carlos Beltran, the 10th deal in baseball history worth US$100 million or more. The new-look Mets already have added three-time Cy Young piching award winner Pedro Martinez and might try to sign Carlos Delgado.

"I call it the new Mets because this organization is going to a different direction, the right direction, the direction of winning," Beltran said.

Three hours later, the Yankees introduced Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner, after acquiring him from Arizona for Vazquez, Navarro, pitcher Brad Halsey and US$9 million. The Big Unit, who got a US$32 million, two-year contract extension through 2007, quickly apologized for getting into a sidewalk confrontation with a television cameraman en route to his physical the previous day.

"It was unprofessional and, obviously, I feel very foolish today, at such a great moment in my career, that I would have to sit before all of you, or stand before all you, and apologize for my actions," he said.

"Come to one of the biggest media markets, one of the winningest franchises in the history of any sport, and that's the way I enter? I'm sorry, I don't know how many more times I can say that," Johnson added.

Arizona then dealt Navarro and right-handers William Juarez, Danny Muegge and Beltran Perez to Los Angeles for Green and US$10 million.

"We had said for some time if we were to make a decision to trade Randy Johnson, which was a difficult decision to be sure, that we wanted to obtain good starting pitching and another front-line player as a minimum," Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick said. "We think we achieved our goal with Javy and with Shawn."

Green got a US$32 million, three-year contract from the Diamondbacks. He has a .314 average and .629 slugging percentage at Bank One Ballpark with 14 homers and 40 RBIs in 175 at-bats, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"I couldn't be happier with the change for me," Green said. "The team that I was really hoping would work out is Arizona. It's my favorite park to play in and it's my favorite city to come to. It was a perfect fit for me and for my family."

After shedding Green, Los Angeles finalized its US$36 million, four-year contract with right-hander Derek Lowe, the winner for Boston in the final game of all three of its postseason series as the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.

"Derek is a front-line starter with a history of success in the regular season and in the postseason," Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said. "He adds great depth to our rotation and will help anchor our pitching staff for years to come. We're ecstatic that we were able to add a pitcher of his caliber to our team."

Gonzalez, a two-time American League most valuable player with Texas, finalized a minor league contract with Cleveland.

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