Curt Schilling, apparently a trade target of the New York Yankees, sounded ambivalent Friday on whether he would waive his full no-trade clause to leave the Diamondbacks for the Bronx.
“My mind-set is no different than a month ago,” he said. “If they're going to trade me now, one team I'd be very open to would be Philadelphia (his former team). Any other situation would lead to a lot of hoops to jump through and a lot of ladders to climb both on and off the field.”
Schilling said he has not been directly asked about approving a trade but, “It's something I'm prepared to be approached on.”
Schilling — unsigned beyond next year, when he will make $12 million — said he would not OK any deal without a contract extension. And it would have to be to a contending team in a city in which his family felt comfortable living.
“If I'm leaving Arizona, it's going somewhere else with a contract in hand,” he said. “Absolutely.
“I have a three-year plan. My goal is to win 60 to 70 more games the next three years and walk away.”
D-Backs general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. declined comment on any Schilling trade talks, but the team has to cut payroll and is known to be seeking major league-ready, young (i.e., inexpensive) talent. The Yankees are looking for a top starter to replace the retired Roger Clemens, and owner George Steinbrenner is known to be a fan of Schilling.
“There are a lot of issues, but (acquiring Schilling) is a definite possibility,” a baseball official told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger.
One source said the Yankees and D-Backs have not had specific discussions. But that could change when baseball's general manager meetings begin Monday in Phoenix.
While the spotlight of playing in New York would certainly not keep Schilling from moving there, other factors might.
“I'd love to play for (manager) Joe Torre,” he said. “But is he going to be there the next year? The instability would probably be a concern. (But) it's a market I wouldn't have issues playing in.”
Schilling's preparation for games involves watching video of his past encounters with opposing hitters. That could make him reluctant to move to the American League, where he would face many batters with whom he had little or no history, but he believes watching a year or two of tape of a similar pitcher (such as Clemens) might compensate.
One reason for Arizona to trade Schilling, the Cy Young Award runner-up in 2001 and 2002, is to trim payroll so it can go after some offensive help, such as Milwaukee's Richie Sexson.
Another factor is Schilling's insistence that he will not approve a trade once spring training begins because he is unwilling to uproot his family in midseason. Thus, should the D-Backs not be in contention next year, they will be unable to get talent in return for Schilling before losing him to free agency.
The Phillies, who are seeking a starting pitcher, may not be able to afford Schilling after acquiring closer Billy Wagner from Houston. Then again, half of Schilling's $12 million salary for 2004 is deferred, as are all his incentive bonuses (up to $2 million).
“I'm in a win-win situation,” said Schilling, who turns 37 next Friday. “I love it here. This organization has been great to me as a player, this is where I grew up, this is a good team.”