Multiple reports identified a package of four Diamondbacks players who would be sent to the Yankees in exchange for the 43-year-old Johnson, who won 34 games over the past two seasons with New York. Johnson, coming off back surgery performed in October, is owed $16 million for the 2007 season. The Yankees reportedly included $2 million in the deal to help offset Johnson's 2007 salary.
Headed to the Yankees -- contingent upon Johnson waiving a no-trade clause in exchange for a 2008 contract extension -- would be reliever Luis Vizcaino, Minor League pitchers Ross Ohlendorf and Steven Jackson, plus Minor League shortstop Alberto Gonzalez.
The package would accomplish the Yankees' goal of replinishing their farm system with younger talent, much of it close to being ready for service at the Major League level.
A series of negotiations gained steam after Johnson, who lives in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley, Ariz., noted his desire to be closer to his home and family in a telephone call with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
Johnson pitched in Arizona from 1999 to 2004, including the D-backs' 2001 World Series victory over the Yankees. With New York, Johnson posted a record of 34-19, bringing his career total to 280 victories, but he was 0-1 with a 6.92 ERA in three postseason starts.
Vizcaino, 32, was a valuable reliever in Arizona's 2006 campaign. The right-hander was 4-6 with a 3.58 ERA in 70 games for the Diamondbacks, walking 29 and striking out 72 while scattering 51 hits in 65 1/3 innings. He has also played for the A's, Brewers and White Sox in eight seasons.
Ohlendorf, 25, was one of Arizona's more highly regarded pitching prospects and had been considered a contender for the team's starting rotation in 2007. Ohlendorf made 27 starts at Double-A Tennessee of the Southern League last year, going 10-8 with a 3.29 ERA. In 177 2/3 innings, Ohlendorf struck out 125 and walked 29.
Jackson, one of Ohlendorf's Double-A rotation mates, is a 24-year-old right-hander who went 8-11 with a 2.65 ERA in 24 starts, walking 45 and striking out 125. Jackson struggled while representing the Diamondbacks in the Arizona Fall League, going 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA in six starts for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Gonzalez, 23, was Tennessee's starting shortstop in 2006 and is reputed to be a strong defensive player. He held his own against Southern League pitching, batting .290 with six home runs and 50 RBIs in 129 games.
Without Johnson, the Yankees' projected rotation heading into Spring Training would be comprised of Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano.