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Johnson-Nomo Trade May Be Near

May 28, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Los Angeles Dodgers are on the verge of making their second blockbuster deal in two weeks, a trade that would bring them Seattle pitcher Randy Johnson for pitcher Hideo Nomo and an outfielder, according to a broadcast report.

MSNBC reported today that the deal could be completed before the day is out.

The Mariners, sources said, had extensive trade talks Wednesday with the Dodgers about a deal that would send Nomo and an outfielder _ perhaps Todd Hollandsworth _ to Seattle for Johnson. Both pitchers are free agents after this season, a big factor in greasing the skids for a deal.

The Mariners also were expected to have discussions today with the San Diego Padres about starter Joey Hamilton, and the Washington Post said in today’s editions that the Baltimore Orioles are also pursuing Johnson.

However, MSNBC said the Mariners believed they would complete the deal with the Dodgers today. It said the teams have agreed on Nomo, but are negotiating on which outfielder would join him in the trade. The possibilities also include Roger Cedeno, Thomas Howard and Trenidad Hubbard.

Johnson, 34, was considered the most dominant left-handed pitcher in baseball in the five years before this season. He entered this season with a 53-9 record since May 7, 1994. But this season, he has struggled and so has Nomo, the NL Rookie of the Year in 1995.

If the deal between the Mariners and Dodgers goes through, Johnson would become the first left-hander to be a regular part of the team’s rotation since Bob Ojeda in 1992. Dennis Reyes snapped a major league-record streak of 681 Dodgers starts by right-handed pitchers last year.

The trade would come two weeks after the Dodgers pulled off one of the biggest blockbuster deals in baseball history with the Florida Marlins. Los Angeles sent All-Star catcher Mike Piazza and third baseman Todd Zeile to the Marlins for outfielder Gary Sheffield, third baseman Bobby Bonilla, catcher Charles Johnson, outfielder Jim Eisenreich and a minor leaguer.

The Mariners are trading Johnson for virtually the same reason the Dodgers dealt Piazza, who subsequently was traded by Florida to the New York Mets. Johnson’s agent, Alan Nero, reiterated to the Mariners last week a request to be traded. The Mariners told Johnson and Nero they would adhere to the request, but said that unless Johnson pitched better, there would be no interest.

Johnson (4-3 with a 6.02 ERA) pitched his finest game of the season Sunday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, striking out 15 in a seven-hit, complete-game victory.

The 1995 AL Cy Young Award winner, a 20-game winner for the first time last season, has been upset with the Mariners’ ownership and front office since last winter when they decided not to extend his contract past this season. He asked Seattle to trade him and the Mariners tried, but couldn’t get what they wanted for him.

After Sunday night’s game, Johnson told reporters, ``You guys think it’s easy? The crap I’ve been putting up with. It isn’t easy.″

Nomo, 29, is 2-6 with a 4.50 ERA this season. He’s allowed only 50 hits but walked 35 and given up eight home runs.

Nomo signed with the Dodgers as a free agent on Feb. 13, 1995 after pitching for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in the Japanese Pacific League for five years.

Nomo was an immediate sensation for the Dodgers in the strike-shortened season. He was 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA and four complete games in 28 starts. He led the NL with 236 strikeouts and three shutouts and was second in ERA, and was the NL starter in the All-Star game, pitching two shutout innings.

In 1996, he was 16-11 with three complete games and two shutouts, including a no-hitter, with a 3.19 ERA and 234 strikeouts. He finished fourth in the NL in the Cy Young Award voting.

Last year, he was 14-12 with a 4.25 ERA and one complete game in 33 starts with 233 strikeouts _ fourth in the NL.

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