Braves Get Sheffield in Trade
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ATLANTA (AP) _ Gary Sheffield’s wish to leave the Los Angeles Dodgers was fulfilled Tuesday when he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Brian Jordan, Odalis Perez and a minor league pitcher.
The Braves struggled to find an offensive complement to Chipper Jones the past two seasons, while the Dodgers had to deal with repeated complaints from an unhappy Sheffield.
``We’ve been looking for a hitter of this caliber for quite some time,″ Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. ``We’ve been talking periodically with the Dodgers about Gary for the past year and were delighted we were able to get it done.″
Sheffield, who hit .311 with 36 home runs and 100 RBIs last season, said recently that he either wanted to be dealt elsewhere before spring training or be assured he would remain with the Dodgers until his contract expires after the 2004 season.
Los Angeles GM Dan Evans insisted that Sheffield’s demand didn’t lead to the trade.
``We didn’t get rid of Gary Sheffield,″ Evans said. ``We made the trade because we felt it made a lot of sense for us.″
He stressed Jordan’s leadership in the clubhouse and thinks the loss of Sheffield will be offset by better seasons from Eric Karros, Mark Grudzielanek and Adrian Beltre _ all of whom spent time on the disabled list.
Jordan hit .295 with 25 home runs and 97 RBIs in 2001. Perez, a left-hander projected to be Atlanta’s fifth starter, was 7-8 with a 4.91 ERA.
The minor leaguer sent to the Dodgers from the Braves was right-hander Andy Brown, who was 3-4 with a 3.92 ERA with Class A Jamestown last season.
Even while extending their streak of division titles to 10 in a row, the Braves have struggled offensively in recent years.
Last year they were ninth in the National League in hitting (.260), 13th in runs (729) and 10th in homers (174).
Jones was their most consistent threat. Center fielder Andruw Jones struggled through long slumps, while Jordan endured another season of nagging ailments. The offensive woes led to the firing of batting coach Merv Rettenmund.
The Braves have moved aggressively during the offseason to upgrade their run production. Vinny Castilla was signed to play third base, prompting the move of Chipper Jones to left field.
Sheffield will play right and Andruw Jones will remain in center, giving the Braves one of baseball’s most dynamic outfields.
Sheffield still must show he can fit in with the rest of Atlanta’s low-key clubhouse. John Rocker was shunned by most of his teammates for disruptive behavior and wound up being traded.
Sheffield said he lost trust in the Dodgers after a recent conversation in which with Evans said he didn’t try to trade the outfielder to Oakland.
``They were not the central reason for us making the trade,″ Evans said. ``The talks (with the Braves) began long before the comments were in the newspaper.″
From Atlanta’s end, the trade was foreshadowed by the signing of pitcher Albie Lopez, who will take over as the fifth starter behind Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Kevin Millwood and Jason Marquis.
The Braves have made numerous moves after a five-game loss to Arizona in the NL championship series.
Andruw Jones agreed to a $75 million, six-year contract extension, closer John Smoltz remained in Atlanta with a $30 million deal and catcher Javy Lopez also re-signed.
Sheffield, 33, is one of baseball’s most feared sluggers but endured a tumultuous stint in Los Angeles.
Before spring training last year, Sheffield asked the Dodgers for a contract extension or a trade. The team would not rework his deal, and Sheffield called team chairman Bob Daly a liar.
Sheffield is a .295 career hitter with 315 homers and 1,016 RBIs in 13 seasons with Milwaukee, San Diego, Florida and the Dodgers.
He has two years remaining on his contract. He will earn $9.5 million in 2002, $11 million in 2003. The Braves inherit a club option of $11 million for 2004.
Jordan, 34, has two years remaining on a $40 million, five-year contract. He earned $9.1 million last season and will make $6 million in 2002.
The right-handed hitter has a career batting average of .287 with 149 home runs and 656 RBIs in seven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and three with Atlanta.
Jordan’s most productive season with the Braves was in 1999, when he hit .283 with 23 homers and 115 homers.
Perez, 23, was 11-15 with a 5.38 ERA in two seasons with the Braves. He missed all of the 2000 season following elbow surgery.