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DODGERS BALK AT TRADE GM NIXES DEAL DUE TO WORRIES OVER VAZQUEZ.

Byline: Matt McHale Staff Writer

fter staring at the ramifications of a monster three-team, 10-player deal for more than a week, Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta pulled out Tuesday night and angered the New York Yankees for balking over the health and attitude of right-hander Javier Vazquez.

Yankees president Randy Levine said the Dodgers ``reneged'' on the trade that would have sent Green to Arizona and five-time Cy Young award winner Randy Johnson to New York.

Green was prepared to accept a trade and Johnson was scheduled to fly today to the Yankees' spring training base in Tampa, Fla., to undergo a physical. Both were expected to receive contract extensions from their new clubs.

But Vazquez, who struggled in the second half last season amid whispers of arm problems, prompted DePodesta to withdraw from the trade after the pitcher made it clear he did not want to play in Los Angeles.

``The Dodgers reneged on the deal that was agreed to last Friday, unequivocally and with no contingencies except for a window for contract extensions and physicals,'' Levine told the Associated Press on Tuesday night. ``For some reason, the Dodgers over the weekend started to backpedal. Why they would break their word is only something they can answer. It sure is disappointing, and we'll have to think long and hard before ever doing business with the Dodgers again.''

Because he is in the middle of a multiyear contract (three years, $34.5 million), Vazquez could have demanded a trade at the end of next season. If the trade request was not granted or withdrawn, he would have been eligible for free agency.

``As we sit here right now, the deal is no more,'' DePodesta said Tuesday during a late-afternoon conference call. ``I've been saying all along that we weren't going to do the deal unless it made sense for this club in 2005, and that was not the case.''

New York Newsday reported Tuesday night on its Web site that Vazquez refused to go to Los Angeles for a physical after his agent said the trade was completed. Vazquez was cleared of any arm problems during a season-ending physical with the Yankees.

Early Tuesday, the three teams were expected to send a signed agreement to commissioner Bud Selig's office for approval. Instead, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt informed Levine and Arizona executive Jeff Moorad in separate telephone calls that he wanted out of the trade.

DePodesta refused to name Vazquez as the reason the Dodgers withdrew but said he was worried about the health of one of the players the club was expected to get in the deal. In addition to Vazquez, the Dodgers were to receive top prospects Eric Duncan and Dioner Navarro from the Yankees and pitcher Mike Koplove from Arizona.

Arizona would have received Green and pitchers Brad Penny, Yhency Brazoban and Brandon Weeden from the Dodgers. Along with Johnson, the Yankees would have gotten pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii from Los Angeles.

DePodesta, who took over as Dodgers GM last February, dismissed speculation that he changed direction because of failed negotiations with free agent J.D. Drew, who figured to replace Green in right field.

Baseball sources said talks between the Dodgers and Drew's agent Scott Boras are ongoing. Boras also represents third baseman Adrian Beltre, who left the Dodgers to sign a five-year, $64 million contract with Seattle.

The Yankees are expected to continue their pursuit of Johnson. They are hoping to negotiate directly with the Diamondbacks. but talks between the teams has been unsuccessful since last summer. The Chicago White Sox could jump into the Dodgers spot, offering right-hander Jon Garland and first baseman Paul Konerko.

Baseball sources said Friday that the Dodgers figure to intensify negotiations with free agent right-handers Derek Lowe and Orlando ``El Duque'' Hernandez. Lowe pitched for the Red Sox last season. Hernandez was in his second tour with the Yankees.

If the trade had been completed, the Dodgers would have gained $12 million in payroll flexibility. They would have dropped Green, Ishii and Penny and picked up Vazquez, who will make $11 million in 2005.

Right now, the Dodgers are committed to 11 players for roughly $55 million for the upcoming season.

DePodesta said he has not spoken to Green during the trade discussions. But DePodesta added he doesn't expect a problem keeping Green with the club.

Last Thursday, Green attended a Christmas party at Dodger Stadium.

``I'm looking forward to making a call to some of the guys and telling them to settle down and not be concerned with being traded,'' he said.

Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick, however, said Tuesday he intends to resolve Johnson's situation by the end of the month.

``We don't think it's a healthy thing for us or for him for the uncertainty of his situation to continue into next year,'' Kendrick said.

Matt McHale, (818) 713-3622

matt.mchale(at)dailynews.com

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Photo:

The Dodgers will not have right-hander Javier Vasquez after pulling out of a trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 22, 2004
Words:844
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