Sox near deal for D-Backs' Vazquez

Sox near deal for D-Backs' Vazquez

PHOENIX -- It appears the Diamondbacks and White Sox are close to a deal that would send Javier Vazquez and cash to Chicago in exchange for pitchers Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino and highly regarded outfielder Chris Young.

The trade is contingent upon players passing physicals and the approval of the Commissioner since Arizona is including cash in the deal.

Arizona acquired Vazquez last January in a trade that sent Randy Johnson to the Yankees, and the veteran exercised his contractual right to demand a trade last month after going 11-15 with a 4.42 ERA in 33 starts in 2005.

Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes, who has worked tirelessly for the past month exploring the market for Vazquez, declined to confirm or deny the trade when reached on Tuesday night.

"We are looking to get better, and we don't want to put ourselves in a position where our first priority is compromised and that's pitching," White Sox GM Kenny Williams told reporters on Tuesday, before word of the deal leaked. "We are not trying to break up anything. We are looking to add to the equation, fortify it, and not anything else.

"I see no reason to change the approach we have had from Day 1. It's the only way I know how to do business, by continuing to be as aggressive as possible. We are aggressive with a little more caution this year, not because we won last year, but we are cognizant of the makeup for the club."

The deal sets up the White Sox to have one of the best rotations in baseball with Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Vazquez, Jon Garland and Jose Contreras.

The Diamondbacks' initial reluctance to pick up any part of the money owed Vazquez was believed to be a deal breaker for some teams, but they have reportedly softened on that stance with the White Sox. The Diamondbacks received $9 million from the Yankees to help offset Vazquez's contract when they acquired him last year. Vazquez is set to earn $11.5 million in 2006 and $12.5 million in 2007.

Since he demanded a trade, he gave up the right to be a free agent after his contract expires, so Chicago would be able to offer him arbitration for the third year.

Last year with Double-A Birmingham, the 22-year-old Young hit .277 with 41 doubles, 26 homers and 32 stolen bases in 38 attempts. The year before for Class A Kannapolis, he had 24 homers and 31 steals.

Baseball America, which ranked Young as Chicago's sixth-best prospect before his outstanding 2005 season wrote, "Designated as the best athlete and quickest base runner in the organization, Young is blessed with tremendous speed and is blossoming into a power hitter as well."

Hernandez was 9-9 with a 5.12 ERA for the White Sox last season and probably made his biggest contribution to the World Series champions in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Red Sox.

Hernandez entered the game in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, no outs and the White Sox clinging to a one-run lead. The right-hander got Jason Varitek and Tony Graffanino to pop out before fanning Johnny Damon to end the frame and the White Sox went on to win the game and sweep the series.

Hernandez, whose age has been reported to be anywhere between 36 to 40, defected from Cuba in December of 1997 and pitched for the Yankees from 1998 through 2004 before signing a two-year contract with the White Sox last year.

Steve Gilbert and Scott Merkin are reporters for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.