So, wha’ happened? The New York Times reports:
As yesterday began, there was widespread anticipation that the three teams involved in the Johnson trade would send a signed agreement to Commissioner Bud Selig’s office so that he could approve the deal. Instead, the Dodgers’ owner, Frank McCourt, informed Randy Levine, the Yankees’ president, and the Arizona ownership – in separate telephone calls – that he wanted out of the trade.
…Whether Arizona even wants Vazquez is uncertain. His value might have taken a blow yesterday when Dodgers General Manager Paul DePodesta, in a conference call with reporters to discuss the deal’s demise, said he had a health concern about one of the players. It was an apparent reference to Vazquez.
… One baseball executive said the Dodgers had come to believe that Vazquez did not want to pitch on the West Coast and might invoke his contractual right to demand a trade for the 2006 season. There was also speculation that Vazquez, to underline his opposition, might have refused to take a physical for the Dodgers, and that this was behind the health concern cited by DePodesta.
And according to the Daily News, Yankee president Randy Levine is not pleased about how the Dodgers handled themselves:
“Last Friday, the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Yankees all unequivocally agreed on this trade with a window for the commissioner’s approval, to negotiate extensions and for physicals,” Levine said last night. “Over the weekend, this was confirmed by myself, Jeffrey Moorad, (D-Backs CEO) Ken Kendrick and Frank McCourt and both the Yankees and Diamondbacks proceeding by submitting paperwork (to the commissioner). The Dodgers, however, did not and for whatever reasons pulled out of the trade and from here on in, we will think long and hard before we ever do business with them again.”
Who knows? Was Vazquez really that unhappy about going to the Dodgers? Is he really not healthy? Did the Dodgers do business in bad faith? (Whatever their reasons, it apparently didn’t have too much to do with getting someone to replace Shawn Green, as Los Angeles reportedly agreed in principle with J.D. Drew to a five-year, $55 million contract late last night.) Does it really matter now? The Yankees and Diamondbacks are expected to continue to try and work something out for Johnson. Whether a third team will be involved or not is anyone’s guess right now.
Meanwhile, Boss George met with Scott Boras yesterday, kicking off the Carlos Beltran talks. No big Christmas presents for the Yanks, but there is still plenty in the works for 2005.