The New York Yankees have begun the rebuilding of their starting rotation after the Montreal Expos agreed Thursday to trade right-hander Javier Vazquez, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports.
The Yankees will send first baseman Nick Johnson, outfielder Juan Rivera and a player to be named to Montreal, The Associated Press reports.
Montreal scheduled a news conference Thursday afternoon for "a major baseball announcement."
The Yankees would like to negotiate an extension for Vazquez, who is eligible for free agency after next season. Montreal, which is owned by Major League Baseball's 29 teams, is faced with payrolls limits and Vazquez, eligible for salary arbitration, will likely get a raise from the $4,775,000 he made in 2003 after losing his hearing.
Vazquez fills one of the holes in the Yankees' starting rotation. He went 13-12 with a 3.24 ERA for the Expos last season, and is three years younger than Bartolo Colon, who is a free agent. The Yankees also were interested in signing the right-hander.
New York's rotation, the backbone of its run to four World Series titles and six AL pennants since 1995, needs retooling with Roger Clemens retired, and Andy Pettitte and David Wells free agents. Wells had back surgery Tuesday.
The Yankees' rotation has Vazquez, Mike Mussina, Jose Contreras, Jeff Weaver and Jon Lieber, who hasn't pitched in the major leagues since reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2002 but hopes to be ready for the start of the season. The Yankees have talked to the Dodgers about acquiring Kevin Brown for Weaver.
Johnson, 25, played first base for much of last season because of Jason Giambi's knee injury, and started the season as the regular designated hitter. While he's regarded as a top hitter -- he batted .284 with 14 homers, 47 RBI and a .422 on-base percentage -- he has been injury prone throughout his career.
Rivera, 25, hit .266 with seven homers and 26 RBI in 173 at-bats and has a strong throwing arm.
Johnson is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time while Rivera isn't yet eligible.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are pushing ahead on the Gary Sheffield front.
Sheffield met Monday and Tuesday with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., and worked out Wednesday at the Yankees' minor league complex. The free-agent outfielder appears likely to sign on his agreed-to three-year offer from the Yankees -- he might have a physical Thursday, a sign that a deal is approaching.
In other news Wednesday, left-handed reliever Felix Heredia agreed to a $3.8 million, two-year contract to stay with the Yankees. Heredia was 0-1 with a 1.20 ERA in 12 appearances with the Yankees, who claimed him off waivers from Cincinnati on Aug. 25.
Heredia had a $1.7 million player option for 2004, which he declined. His new deal calls for $1.8 million salaries in each of the next two seasons and gives the Yankees a $2.5 million option for 2006 with a $200,000 buyout.
New York also is trying to re-sign Gabe White, another left-handed reliever. Chris Hammond, signed last offseason as a left-handed setup man, may be traded.
The Yankees also are close to a $6 million, two-year agreement with right-hander Paul Quantrill, who played for the Dodgers last season. Backup catcher John Flaherty has agreed to a $775,000, one-year contract, but must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
I haven't heard much about Colon lately. Maybe the Yanks are reconsidering?
Yes doctor, I am sick. Sick of those who are spineless. Sick of those who feel self-entitled. Sick of those who are hypocrites. Yes doctor, an army is forming. Yes doctor, there will be a war. Yes doctor, there will be blood.....
So Nick Johnson might fly a little under the proverbial radar screen, at least in a league I'm in........thats OK; but now everybody will pay a lot more attention to Vazquez than they usually do.
Sure I bump his value a ton, because of run support, but I also up the Jeff Weaver factor, in that he could be a guy who doesn't do so well in NY.
Upside on Vazquez...wow....20 wins w/out a huge amount of innings...with a decent bully behind him. Defense is a little better behind him, and he doesn't have to play on the carpeted cement anymore. Could be huge!
Anybody have a good guess at Juan Rivera's impact w/ les Expos?
If I were playing third base and my mother were rounding third with the run that was going to beat us, I'd trip her. Oh, I'd pick her up and brush her off and say, 'Sorry, Mom,' but nobody beats me.
Leo Durocher, Brooklyn Dodgers Manager
I don't think they'll do it until later in or even after the season, or at least they shouldn't. I think they're learning that not all players can perform in pinstripes, so they should at least see how he does first.
Also, hasn't there been concern about Vazquez's workload?
As a Red Sox fan, I like this deal. We knew the Yanks would get one or two great starters. That they traded for Vaz--with only one year left--and had to give up Johnson is a bonus. Johnson is a very patient hitter--like the Yanks of old. He played great defense and worked pitchers. I view this as the Yanks adding what I expected them to--a great pitcher--but having to give up a big piece of their team (Johnson) to do it.
I like the deal for both sides. The 'spos got something for Javier and Johnson is much more than something. Young talented, will get much better. But i love the deal for the yanks as well, getting one of the best young SP in the league when they were getting down on solid P in their rotation