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Johnson deal approaches last hurdle

All that stands between Randy Johnson and the Yankees are a bunch of medical tests.

New York and the five-time Cy Young Award winner reached a preliminary agreement Thursday on a $32-million, two-year contract extension, leaving a physical as the final step needed to finish the drawn-out trade Arizona and the Yankees agreed to Dec. 30.

Johnson waived his no-trade clause as part of the agreement negotiated by agents Barry Meister and Alan Nero, the Associated Press reported.

Arizona will receive right-hander Javier Vazquez, left-hander Brad Halsey, catching prospect Dioner Navarro and $9-million in the swap for the left-hander, 41.

The Yankees, Diamondbacks and agents for the players were working Thursday on the logistics of arranging the medical exams, which probably won't take place until next week. They also were working on paperwork to account for the perks in Johnson's current contract, which calls for him to receive two courtside tickets for Phoenix Suns games through the 2010-11 season and six premium tickets for all Diamondbacks games starting with the first season of his retirement through 2010.

Johnson's current deal, which is entering its final season, called for a $16-million salary in 2005, of which $6-million was deferred at 2 percent interest, with the money payable in 2010.

Arizona also had a preliminary agreement in place to trade Navarro and pitching prospect William Juarez to Los Angeles for outfielder Shawn Green and $8-million. But that deal appeared to be falling apart because the Diamondbacks and Green failed to agree to an extension,

"The window has expired. There is no agreement," baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said.

Los Angeles and Arizona could attempt to restart those talks, however, and ask for a new window.

If the Green trade falls through, Arizona could rekindle talks with outfielder Jeromy Burnitz, who was scheduled to fly to Phoenix for an interview last month. The meeting was canceled by the Diamondbacks.

Diamondbacks general partner Ken Kendrick and Green's agent, Greg Genske, did not return calls seeking comment.

Johnson would join a starting rotation that includes right-handers Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright.

BELTRAN BIDDING: The Astros said that they've made their final offer to Carlos Beltran. They'll find out this weekend whether it was enough to keep the All-Star centerfielder.

"The offer on the table is our final offer," general manager Tim Purpura said. "We're not interested in going any higher."

Houston faces a midnight Saturday deadline to re-sign Beltran. After that, the Astros wouldn't be allowed to strike a deal with him until May 1.

The Mets, who dispatched a delegation to Puerto Rico to meet with Beltran and agent Scott Boras on Monday, also are trying to sign Beltran, and the Cubs might be involved in the talks. The Yankees told Boras they would not focus on Beltran until after they finished Johnson's extension.

PONSON SORRY: Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson apologized for his involvement in a Christmas Day fight on a beach in Aruba, though he didn't mention allegations that he punched a judge.

"I'd like to say that I'm not at all proud of what happened and the way I behaved on the beach that particular day," Ponson told reporters in his native Papiamento language before boarding a private jet headed to Miami. "I would like to apologize to everybody, but especially to the young people of Aruba, who always considered me their role model. I'm very sorry for what took place and I would surely never let this happen again."

BLUE JAYS: Free-agent catcher Gregg Zaun agreed to a one-year contract that guarantees him $1.05-million.

CARDINALS; Free-agent second baseman Mark Grudzielanek agreed to a $1-million, one-year contract. Grudzielanek, who can earn up to $500,000 in performance bonuses, had been pursued by the Rays.

INDIANS: Free-agent right-hander Kevin Millwood and Cleveland are a phone call or two from agreeing on a $7-million, one-year contract. General manager Mark Shapiro said he and Millwood's agent, Scott Boras, have made significant progress in negotiations over the past 48 hours. Cleveland also has had preliminary talks with outfielder Juan Gonzalez on a minor-league contract with a spring training invitation.

MARLINS: Right-hander Ismael Valdez agreed to a one-year contract. Valdez was 14-9 with a 5.13 ERA last season for San Diego and Florida.

NATIONALS: Outfielder/first baseman Brad Wilkerson agreed to a $3.05-million, one-year contract. Wilkerson hit .255 with a career-high 32 home runs, a .374 on-base percentage and a .498 slugging percentage last season and was voted the team's MVP.

PIRATES: All-Star shortstop Jack Wilson avoided arbitration by agreeing to an $8-million, two-year contract.

RED SOX: Former catcher Bill Haselman was hired as bullpen coach, replacing Euclides Rojas. Boston also agreed to a minor-league contract with right-hander Josias Manzanillo.

ROCKIES: Outfielder Dustan Mohr and utility player Desi Relaford agreed to $1.05-million, one-year contracts.

WHITE SOX: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski agreed to a $2.25-million, one-year deal. Pierzynski is a career .294 hitter who has topped .300 twice and was an All-Star in 2003, but he was labeled a malcontent and released by the Giants after the season.

HE HAS A LOT TO GIVE: Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez puts his John Hancock on an oversized $50,000 check to UNICEF, a donation for projects in Yaguate, Dominican Republic.

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