Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Saturday, July 31, 2004
Johnson calls week's speculation 'Tradegate'

ESPN.com news services

DENVER -- The Big Unit is staying in the desert.

After weeks of speculation about where the game's most dominant left-hander would end up, Randy Johnson was still with the Arizona Diamondbacks when Saturday's trade deadline passed.

Randy Johnson
Starting Pitcher
Arizona Diamondbacks
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM W L Sv K ERA
23 10 9 0 180 2.79

"No one in the front office came to me and said 'this is what we have on the table: Would you like to go here or not?' " Johnson said. "That never happened yesterday, it never happened today and I never vetoed any trade."

The Dodgers had been trying to land a deal for the future Hall of Famer, but the two sides were far apart on the players involved, ESPN's Peter Gammons reports.

The five-time Cy Young winner was rumored to be headed to the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers or Anaheim Angels. He was also said to have vetoed a deals, asked for a contract extension and given the Diamondbacks a list of places he'd go.

None of it proved to be true and it started to wear on him.

Calling the speculation "Tradegate," Johnson vented his frustrations for about 10 minutes after a loss to the Colorado Rockies Friday night. He wasn't feeling any better about it even after the trade deadline passed.

"I wasn't shocked one way or the other," he said. "I didn't say I wanted to leave. I didn't give a list of teams like a lot of you said I did."

Johnson has shown he still has plenty left at 40, even with the distractions of the trade rumors.

Although he's just 10-9 after a 4-1 loss to the Rockies on Friday night, Johnson leads the majors with 180 strikeouts, is third in batting average against at .183 and is seventh in the NL with a 2.79 ERA. He also has three complete games and pitched a perfect game against Atlanta on May 18.

But with the team struggling -- 17 losses in 19 games through Friday -- and Johnson due to make another $16 million next season, the Diamondbacks were willing to give Johnson a chance to go to a playoff contender.

They just couldn't get enough in return to make it worthwhile.

"At the end of what was an exhaustive process, we simply did not feel that what we would have been able to obtain warranted making the deal," Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said. "There was a certain talent level we would have to get back. In any of the situations, we didn't see that. We didn't feel obligated to do anything."

Arizona did make one move, sending center fielder Steve Finley to Los Angeles for minor league catcher Koyie Hill, outfielder Reggie Abercrombie and left-hander Bill Murphy.

Losing the four-time Gold Glove winner could lead to a tough end to what has been an already difficult season for Arizona.

The Diamondbacks are in the midst of their worst season since joining the league as an expansion team in 1998 and were a major-league-worst 33-72 through Friday. Arizona has had 18 players go on the DL this season and left fielder Luis Gonzalez is set to have surgery to repair a torn elbow ligament on Monday.

"Losing Finley and Gonzo, I feel like I'm in a boat with no oars and the perfect storm is about to hit," Johnson said.