Dodgers Grant Alex Cora Free Agency

The Dodgers moved closer to completing their part of the blockbuster trade that involves the Yankees and Diamondbacks while allowing slick fielding Alex Cora to follow free agency.

Cora, who combined with shortstop Cesar Izturis to form the Dodgers' best double-play combination, at least in Los Angeles, was not offered arbitration. Neither were reserve catcher Tom Wilson or seldom-used reliever Scott Stewart. They, like Cora, are now are free agents.

The Dodgers did re-sign reliever Giovanni Carrara and utility infielder Olmedo Saenz to one-year deals worth $500,000 and $650,000, respectively, and finalized deals for left-handed pitcher Wilson Alvarez and free-agent infielder Jose Valentin.

The addition of slugging second baseman Jeff Kent made Cora expendable. Cora, 29, has been a Dodger his entire seven-year career and played in more than 100 games each of the last five seasons. He has 27 home runs while batting .246 in 684 games. Last season he batted .264 with career-high totals of 10 home runs and 47 runs batted in.

The Dodgers attempted to trade him to a team that needed a starting second baseman but had no takers, probably because through arbitration Cora could double his $1.3-million salary.

For several days, General Manager Paul DePodesta has refused to green-light the blockbuster 10-player trade that also sends pitcher Randy Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the New York Yankees and lands the Dodgers front-line starter Javier Vazquez until other moves are lined up.

Dodger owner Frank McCourt called Yankee President Randy Levine and Diamondback officials Monday to ease concerns that the Dodgers weren't going through with the deal.

A major hurdle appears to be reaching an agreement with free agent outfielder J.D. Drew, who would fill the void left by Green.

Green has averaged 32 home runs and 102 runs batted in during five Dodger seasons but is to be paid $16 million next year.

Drew, 29, batted .305 with 31 homers for the Atlanta Braves in his best full season since breaking in with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998. However, he has a history of injuries, something that was rarely a problem with Green, and could command a salary of about $11 million a year.

DePodesta also could have a deal in place that ships out Vazquez or the highly regarded prospects the Dodgers would get from the Yankees — catcher Dioner Navarro and third baseman Eric Duncan. The Dodgers need more starting pitching and a catcher, although DePodesta said he has little interest in free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

Vazquez has three years left on a contract worth $35 million and can request a trade after next season. Two sources close to the Yankees said he is not thrilled about coming here.