Best For All Involved
With the recent revelation of the Diamondbacks and Yankees discussing a possible deal that would send Randy Johnson back to the Diamondbacks, the question becomes whether or not this is palatable and wise on both ends. I believe that it would probably be best for all involved if the Yankees were able to send Johnson back to the West Coast, dump his salary, and move forward without him. The Diamondbacks are a team in a weak division with some good pitching, solid young players and a genuine chance to contend next season; Johnson would, if healthy, provide a veteran presence who might be rejuvenated by a return to his home.
Randy Johnson has never appeared to be comfortable in New York; he has accumulated 17 wins in each of his two seasons, but he wasn’t the same dominating pitcher he was in the past. It would be unreasonable to expect him to replicate his Koufax-like numbers from his prime at his advanced age, but his performance has been predominately mediocre——definitely not what was expected of him, nor acceptable considering his salary that stemmed from the contract extension he demanded to allow himself to be traded to the Yankees in the first place.
With the Yankees in the process of a retooling without the overbearing interference of owner George Steinbrenner, GM Brian Cashman appears to be in the process of dispatching the players who were imported based only on the demands of Steinbrenner, rather than due to baseball related decisions. One of those players was Gary Sheffield; another is Randy Johnson.
With Johnson having undergone back surgery following last season and closing out a Hall of Fame career, it would benefit him to be in a warm weather state all year round; his discomfort with New York has been evident since day one and it appeared as though he was abandoning a sinking ship in Arizona for New York and one last chance at a grand payday. He got his money, but in a baseball sense it hasn’t worked out. The Yankees didn’t get the dominant force at the top of their rotation, and Johnson hasn’t delivered the intimidating presence that the Yankees wanted.
On the Diamondbacks end, with the Western Division as weak and winnable as it is, it makes sense to make a bold and decisive move to try and improve enough to realistically contend. If Johnson were to return to the National League and the Diamondbacks, an expectation of 15 wins would be realistic. Combining Johnson with 2006 NL Cy Young Award Winner Brandon Webb would give the Diamondbacks a powerful 1-2 punch. Despite the reports of high demands, when it comes down to zero hour and Yankees really do want to get rid of Johnson, they will presumably lower their demands in terms of players being as desperate as they are to get Johnson’s salary and dour personality off the team; and if the Diamondbacks are willing to take on the salary and wait the situation out to come to an agreement in terms of players, it could be a positive match.
The mere fact that this has come out publicly says that there is significant interest in both sides on getting something done. The same type of thing happened right before the Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez, where it was reported that there were discussions and the Yankees classified them as simply keeping tabs and exchanging names. Such things wouldn’t be leaked to the press if there weren’t any validity to them or a genuine possibility of them coming to fruition. This won’t happen overnight, but as things are progressing, it may happen after the New Year; and it would be best for everyone involved if it did.