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DePodesta Tries to Set Next Move Before Trade

Times Staff Writer

Like an enormous glacier, the three-team blockbuster trade that would shed more than $10 million in Dodger payroll and send Arizona Diamondback left-hander Randy Johnson to the New York Yankees inched along Saturday.

Dodger General Manager Paul DePodesta is thought to be holding up completion of the deal, although he is privately optimistic that it will get done. He just wants to make sure that the next move he plans to make, either on the free agent or trade market, is in place first.

Signing free-agent outfielder J.D. Drew to a multiyear deal worth more than $10 million a year is the top priority. Drew, 29, batted .305 with 31 home runs with the Atlanta Braves last season. He also walked 118 times and had an impressive .436 on-base percentage.

Another reason DePodesta might not be in a hurry is that the trade seems to get better for the Dodgers every day it lingers in limbo. One day after inconsistent left-handed pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii was included along with right fielder Shawn Green and pitchers Brad Penny and Yhency Brazoban in the package that would go to the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was reported that Diamondback reliever Mike Koplove would come to the Dodgers along with Yankee pitcher Javier Vazquez and two top minor leaguers.

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Koplove, 28, was 4-4 with a 4.05 earned-run average in 76 appearances last season and could replace Brazoban as the primary setup man for closer Eric Gagne. The Diamondbacks would get from the Dodgers minor league pitcher Brandon Weeden, who was the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2002 and was traded to Los Angeles with Jeff Weaver in last winter’s trade that sent Kevin Brown to New York.

DePodesta also might package Vazquez or either of the two prospects -- catcher Dioner Navarro and third baseman Eric Duncan -- in a trade for more pitching.

The Dodgers came to agreement on a one-year deal for $3.5 million with free agent Jose Valentin, who is expected to play third base against right-handed pitching.

Valentin, 35, still must pass a physical.

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