Mariners' Johnson not headed for L.A. Seattle says pitcher will stay put in '98

June 03, 1998|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers organization had become the focus of so much turmoil and trade speculation that general manager Fred Claire called a news conference yesterday to announce that nothing was really happening.

There will be no deal for superstar pitcher Randy Johnson, who had been the subject of trade rumors involving the Dodgers over the past week.

Claire made the non-announcement just minutes after a clubhouse meeting in which he told the Dodgers that the time had come to put three weeks of trade-related turmoil behind them and concentrate on getting back into the National League West race.

"This team is no longer in pursuit of Randy Johnson," Claire said. "We need to move on. I acknowledged that we had made an effort, but it was time to move on. We don't need to have a frenzy at Dodger Stadium every day. We need to get to the point where there is only a media frenzy because we are winning and headed to the playoffs."

Meanwhile, the Mariners say they'll keep Johnson.

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong issued a statement that said: "Randy Johnson is a valued pitcher for the Mariners who is under contract for the balance of the 1998 season. Randy will pitch for the Mariners throughout the season. Accordingly, we have no plans to trade Randy Johnson."

The Dodgers are believed to have offered the Mariners starting pitcher Ismael Valdes and promising infielder Wilton Guerrero for Johnson, but Claire asked Mariners general manager Woody Woodward for an answer by noon yesterday. When the proposal was not accepted, the Dodgers withdrew and informed the Mariners that they were no longer interested in making a deal.

"After I told them we were no longer in pursuit, I came out of the meeting with the players and checked my messages," Claire said. "One of them was from Woody Woodward, saying that they had no plans to trade Randy Johnson."

Claire also used the meeting with the players -- and the meeting with the press -- to reassert that he is in charge of the day-to-day operation of the team. His standing in the new Fox management structure came into question when Fox Sports executive Chase Carey took control of negotiations that resulted in the trade of catcher Mike Piazza and third baseman Todd Zeile to the Florida Marlins for Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, Jim Eisenreich and minor-leaguer Manuel Barrios.

"I told them it is time to get our house in order," Claire said. "To get our house in order, they need to know without question who is in charge of baseball operations. That man is Fred Claire."

Pub Date: 6/03/98

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