Garland deal changes post-Unit stance
D-backs find budget for free agent following Johnson's exit
PHOENIX -- Imagine how surprised Randy Johnson must have been when he learned the D-backs had signed free-agent pitcher Jon Garland on Thursday.Garland received a deal that will pay him $6.25 million in 2009 and includes a mutual option for 2010. Should the D-backs decline the option, they would owe him another $2.5 million. If the D-backs extend the offer and Garland rejects it, he gets $1 million. By contrast, Johnson, who is five wins shy of 300, did not re-sign with the D-backs in November after offering to take a 50 percent pay reduction from the $10 million salary plus a prorated $4 million bonus he played for in 2008. At the time, reports surfaced that the club had offered Johnson only $3 million because of financial limitations. Johnson waited until the last day he could file for free agency and then wound up signing a one-year $8 million deal with the rival Giants that includes $5 million in performance and award bonuses. "I think he and us made a good attempt in October and into the middle of November and couldn't get it done," D-backs GM Josh Byrnes said. "At the time he filed, it felt like they turned the page a little bit, and I think we wanted to keep it a little more open ended than they did. Obviously, it turned out to be a good deal, and we understand the choices he had." According to Byrnes, the D-backs wanted to meet with Johnson face to face but were unable to. "We weren't able to get a meeting that we hoped would help explain the scenarios of the offseason that might involve a longer process toward maybe a deal," Byrnes said. "Again, we understand the risk when a player goes to free agency." One of Johnson's agents, Barry Meister, declined to get into the specifics of the negotiations. "All I can say is that Randy made every effort to re-sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks at a price significantly reduced than free agency," Meister said. "And Arizona had the exclusive right to do that before Randy hit the free-agent market. Again, Randy wishes the Diamondbacks well and is thankful for his time in a Diamondbacks uniform." When the D-backs were negotiating with Johnson, they expected to have several extra high Draft picks as compensation for other teams signing Type A free agents Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson and Juan Cruz.
However, as the economy worsened, the D-backs elected not to offer Dunn arbitration because they were afraid he would accept and therefore lost the right to compensation picks. Hudson and Cruz, meanwhile, remain unsigned.The bottom line is that with less Draft picks, the D-backs had more money to spend and chose to do so when Garland was still available. "The deeper we got into the offseason," Byrnes said, "maybe a few things changed our landscape -- most notably our expected expenditures in the Draft and a few other things."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.