The Diamondbacks believed they were close enough to trading Randy Johnson to the Dodgers that they actually went to him this week and asked if he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt to Los Angeles. But Johnson declined, according to a baseball official with knowledge of the deal.
At this point, with the trade deadline just a few days away, Arizona believes its alternatives are either to deal Johnson to the Yankees or keep him.
Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark he wouldn't comment on any particular trade and said only that he and Arizona GM Joe Garagiola Jr. "continue to talk, on various topics, as we have over the past couple of weeks. But at this stage, there is still nothing imminent."
The Diamondbacks and Dodgers are known to have spoken about deals involving both Johnson and outfielder Steve Finley. But it's believed the package that would have headed to the Diamondbacks from L.A. for Johnson would have included reliever Guillermo Mota and outfielder Jayson Werth, plus two Dodgers pitching prospects -- Chad Billingsley and Chuck Tiffany.
The two teams also discussed a variation of the trade which would have sent catcher Paul Lo Duca to Arizona.
However, Johnson turned the deal down and told the Diamondbacks again that the only team he wants to be traded to is the Yankees, ESPN's Peter Gammons reports. However, clubs that have spoken with Arizona's baseball people continue to report that the Diamondbacks aren't happy with what they've seen in the Yankees' farm system. So they're prepared to hang onto Johnson, no matter how unhappy he might be.
And the clock is ticking. Johnson had asked Arizona to move up the trade deadline by three days -- to Wednesday -- so he can properly prepare for his next start Friday, wherever it might be.
He is 10-8 with a 2.68 ERA with 174 strikeouts in 151 innings. The D-Backs' losing ways have cost him several victories, including Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Rockies after the Big Unit left with a lead. Arizona had lost 14 straight before Monday's victory over Houston.
One Yankee whom Arizona is thought to have interest in is pitcher Jose Contreras, but Contreras has about $17 million left on his contract. And if the Yankees attempted to include even half that amount in a deal to help pay Contreras' salary, there is no assurance that commissioner Bud Selig would approve it.
Meanwhile, every indication is that Arizona still plans to trade Finley by the deadline. But all indications Wednesday were that the Finley derby was down to just the Padres and Dodgers.
The Phillies and Marlins were told Tuesday that Finley wouldn't go to a team on the East Coast -- leaving the Padres, Dodgers and Giants still in the running.
But the word around baseball Wednesday was that the Diamondbacks were concentrating on the two southern California teams, and that the Giants were believed to be heading in a different direction.
The Diamondbacks are reported to have asked San Diego for reliever Akinori Otsuka, plus at least one other player. And it's believed they've asked the Dodgers for some combination of the players who would have been involved in the Johnson deal, as well as highly regarded first-base prospect James Loney.
Information from ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark was used in this report.