[In 1997], the Mariners talked to Johnson and his agent about the team's 1998 option for the pitcher - and the Mariners insist Johnson made it clear he didn't want them to exercise it.The Mariners did, however, and the relationship quickly soured. In November, Armstrong announced Johnson would not be offered a contract extension beyond 1998, and the "Big Unit" began sniping and stopped only when he ceased speaking to the press in June."They haven't treated me as well as they should have considering what I've done for the team," he said in one spring training interview. "The only option is for them to trade me."Five frustrating months later, the Mariners did.
At 11:10 p.m. Hunsicker called Woodward "just to satisfy my curiosity and make a last-ditch effort." Woodward said he would call back. The Mariners had spent eight months putting Johnson on and off the trading block. They had turned down deals that would have brought them Mariano Rivera from the Yankees, Chad Ogea from the Indians and Ismael Valdes from the Dodgers. But at 11:20 p.m. last Friday—40 minutes before the trading deadline—it had come to this: Woodward telephoned Hunsicker and indicated he was willing to talk about the Astros' second-tier prospects. Hunsicker offered him three minor leaguers, none of whom satisfied Seattle's demand for a big league pitcher.Woodward again said he would call back. "I got nervous," Hunsicker says, "because at 11:45, I was still waiting around for him to call." Between calls to Hunsicker, Woodward was making one last fishing trip to the Yankees' talent pool. But New York refused to give up righthander Hideki Irabu and third base prospect Mike Lowell.At 11:50 p.m. the phone rang in Hunsicker's house. "We have a deal," Woodward said. The Mariners agreed to take Carlos Guillen, a switch-hitting infielder with power; Freddy Garcia, a righthanded power pitcher; and a minor leaguer to be announced later.
Nine months after telling the Seattle Mariners he wanted to be traded, Randy Johnson got his wish last night, but not to an American League powerhouse.Not even to an American League team....Johnson reluctantly will join the National League Central Division-leading Astros, who play in Pittsburgh this weekend.But he won't be an Astro for long."We consider this a 60-day job," said Alan Nero, one of Johnson's agents. "We don't want to be in the National League. We would have rather (the trade) been with an American League team, preferably the Yankees."Nero said Johnson definitely will file for free agency after the season, and wasn't happy with how the trade was handled.