Dodgers move quickly after killing Unit deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers quickly moved on in the hours after they withdrew from the proposed three-team Randy Johnson trade, agreeing in principle with free-agent outfielder J.D. Drew on a five-year, $55 million contract.

The Bergen Record (N.J.), citing an industry source, reported the deal in Wednesday's editions.

Drew must pass a physical before the deal can be consummated. Because of the holiday looming, an announcement might not come for several days, although Los Angeles scheduled a news conference for Thursday to
introduce a player but would not confirm that it was Drew.

The Dodgers have been pursuing Drew, who reportedly turned down a three-year, $25 million offer to re-sign with the Atlanta Braves, ever since they lost third baseman Adrian Beltre. Drew hit .305 with 31 homers, 93 RBI and 12 stolen bases last season, the first time he played a full season without going on the disabled list.

Drew helped the Braves win the NL East and was sixth in the NL MVP voting.

His best prior season was in 2001, when he hit .323 with 27 homers and 73 RBI in 109 games for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Beltre, who hit 48 home runs last season, signed a $64 million, five-year contract with the Seattle Mariners on Friday.

The Dodgers' negotiations with Drew heated up after a proposed 10-player trade, with Randy Johnson as its centerpiece, fell apart Tuesday. The New York Yankees would have received Johnson, and Los Angeles would have obtained right-hander Javier Vazquez from New York along with two top prospects, catcher Dioner Navarro and third baseman Eric Duncan. The Dodgers also would've gotten pitcher Mike Koplove from Arizona.

Late Tuesday, the Yankees criticized Los Angeles for "reneging" on the deal.

"As we sit here right now, the deal is no more," Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said during a conference call. "I've been saying all along that we weren't going to do the deal unless it made sense for this club in 2005, and that was not the case."

The left handed-hitting Drew is expected to play right field for the Dodgers. That would put Shawn Green at first base, assuming he's not traded. Green played first base for the most part last year -- his first season at that position.