Johnson Becomes 7th D-Back Free Agent

Johnson Becomes 7th D-Back Free Agent

Randy Johnson became the seventh and final Arizona Diamondback to file for free agency on Thursday, joining Tony Clark, Juan Cruz, Adam Dunn, David Eckstein, Orlando Hudson and Brandon Lyon.

Left-hander Randy Johnson filed for free agency on November 13 after last-ditch talks during the Diamondbacks' sole negotiating window ended without resolution, creating the possibility that Johnson's time with the team is over.

The D-backs offered Johnson a one-year deal worth just less than $3 million, while Johnson apparently offered to play for about $8 million, based on a statement by his agents that Johnson would take a "50 percent pay cut (from his 2008 salary) to remain a Diamondback."

Arizona is expected to have a 2009 budget of about $70 million, and they still must fill a hole at second base while also allocating a larger than normal amount to its 2009 draft class because it could have eight selections in the first 75 picks.

"In every negotiation, you try to have an understanding of market value and an understanding of the team context," D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes said. "Sometimes that helps get a deal done. Sometimes it doesn't."

Asked if the D-Backs' offer is firm, Byrnes said, "Yeah. Something would have to fundamentally change for us to close the gap."

Johnson, 45, was 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 2008, and if it was his last season in Arizona, he ended in flashback fashion, pitching a two-hit complete game in a 2-1 victory over Colorado on the final day of the regular season. That conjured visions of his brilliant run of four Cy Young Awards from 1999-2002 and a 2001 World Series title.

"The Diamondbacks have a budget based on their club's financial situation and obviously viewed Randy's contract in that context," said the statement, from agents Alan Nero and Barry Meister of Octagon Sports.  "Randy considered every reasonable compromise including offering to take a 50 percent pay cut, all to remain a Diamondback. However, the economic situation did not lend itself to an agreement.  Consequently, Randy is forced to file for free agency and consider all opportunities to further his career. He hopes to find a team where he can continue to pitch at a high level and contribute to another World Championship."

SNAKE BYTES


--C Miguel Montero has drawn significant interest in offseason trade talks and appears to be the D-backs' most marketable trade piece as they look to fill a hole at second base, which could be done via trade or free agency. "That's a pretty popular name," one major league source said of Montero, who had 16 doubles and five home runs while hitting .255 in 184 at-bats in 2009 behind starting catcher Chris Snyder.

--The D-backs have received some inquiries about OF Eric Byrnes, who has two years and $22 million remaining on his contract, but in all probability, Arizona would have to absorb another significant contract to make any deal work. The D-backs are unlikely to swap large contracts, however, believing that they would not acquire a player of Byrnes' value after seeing Byrnes produce consecutive seasons of 20 home runs and 25 stolen bases in 2006-07 before hamstring issues limited him last year.

--Third base coach Chip Hale, one of seven candidates in the Seattle managerial search, interviewed with the Mariners' new general manager, Jack Zduriencik, on November 11. Hale has been the D-backs' third base and infield coach for two seasons after a highly successful run as a manager in the Arizona system, leading Tucson to the Triple-A championship in 2006 while setting a Sidewinders record with 93 victories.

--LHP Randy Johnson became the seventh and final D-back to file for free agency. He did so Nov. 13 after the sides failed to reach a deal on the final day of the D-backs' exclusive negotiating window. 1B Tony Clark, RHP Juan Cruz, OF Adam Dunn, 2B/SS David Eckstein, 2B Orlando Hudson and RHP Brandon Lyon filed earlier.

--RHP Brandon Webb finished second to Giants' RHP Tim Lincecum in the NL Cy Young Award voting, extending his streak of top-two finishes to three. Webb won the award in 2006 and has been second the last two years. It is the best streak in the NL since LHP Randy Johnson won four in a row from 1999-2002. Webb tied with Cleveland LHP Cliff Lee, the AL Cy Young winner, for the major league high with 22 victories.

DIAMOND STAT: 9 -- Games in which RHP Brandon Webb pitched at least eight innings, the most among the NL Cy Young Award candidates.

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