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Big Unit to L.A. makes sense

 

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By Peter Gammons

Special to ESPN.com

 

 

July 27

 

Jerry Colangelo and Joe Garagiola have reiterated that they are not running a fire sale and that Randy Johnson is not being dumped to someone whose only offer is to pick up the $24 million remaining on his contract ($7 million of which is deferred).

 

 

Tuesday afternoon, one party close to the situation said that he still believes the future Hall of Famer will remain in Arizona, as bad as it's been. The report that Colangelo and Garagiola received is that third baseman Eric Duncan is the Yankee farmhand closest to the majors that intrigues them. But Duncan plays in the Midwest League and does not fit the 2005 priorities of the Diamondbacks. So, unless George Steinbrenner buys players and trades them for Johnson, and unless Johnson unexpectedly changes his mind and agrees to go to the Angels, the only team that may fit the priorities of Johnson and the D-Backs is the Dodgers.

 

Whether the Dodgers would give up Paul Lo Duca, Guillermo Mota and a prospect like pitcher Chad Billingsley is another matter.

 

Arizona wants to make a deal for a catcher and potential closer on the major league level and one or two prospects. The D-Backs also don't want to deal Steve Finley to the Padres because they don't want him to sign there for 2005. They want him to re-sign with the Diamondbacks. So the deal they'd like to make is with Florida. They would send Finley, catcher Brent Mayne and reliever Stephen Randolph for first baseman Jason Stokes, outfielder Abraham Nunez and a pitching prospect, Billy Murphy or Scott Olsen.

 

The Fish paused on Stokes and Olsen, and had yet to decide if they would ask Finley to move to left field. Finley has tried to force a deal to San Diego by telling Kevin Towers he won't go the East Coast. So that remains a standoff, and the Marlins continue to talk about four bats, the most notable one being Admin Walker.

 

The Marlins have struggled but have not considered selling because they still believe that if they get Josh Beckett back Friday, their rotation with Brad Penny, A.J. Burnett, Carl Pavano and Dontrelle Willis can make a strong run down the stretch. After all, they were 18-8 in September last season.

 

As the Marlins believe they can get back this season, so the Diamondbacks believe they can get back into contention next season.

 

That's what they believe, with Randy, or with the major league-ready talent they get for him.

 

Even if Finley were to go to San Diego, he could return to Arizona, which hopes to re-sign Richie Sexson. The D-Backs also hope that they can get Mota to close behind Jose Valverde, Brian Bruney, Oscar Villarreal and Jason Bulger (who has hit 100 mph on the gun in Double-A).

 

When healthy, the Diamondbacks have talent at and close to the major league level, with outfielder Conor Jackson likely to be able to jump from Double-A to the majors next season. Outfielder Carlos Quentin, infielder Sergio Santos and No. 1 pick Stephen Drew are close behind. The team will sign Drew, who it believes is ahead of J.D. at this stage and a potential impact player in the middle infield.

 

So Randy and everyone waits out the week. Even though Kris Benson to Minnesota for Doug Mientkiewicz and Mike Restovich appears close, Pirates GM Dave Littlefield may hold on and see if he can squeeze one or two more players out of the deep Minnesota organization. As Littlefield always states, they can always say no

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the most recent thing in the papers out here is that johnson's agent told garagiola that if randy doesn't move to the yanks they will have a very unhappy pitcher

 

this is leading the the slim (repeat very slim) talks of the yankees, dbacks and a 3rd team (either the marlins or padres) working out a deal that would move both johnson & finley while using prospects/major league talent from all 3 teams to round out the deals

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