|Tuesday, January 15
Updated: January 18, 6:05 PM ET
Sheffield traded to Braves for Jordan, pitcher Perez
ESPN.com news services
ATLANTA -- Gary Sheffield got his wish Tuesday when the Los
Angeles Dodgers traded him 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 dealt with repeated complaints from Sheffield, who wanted a trade or a promise they'd keep him through the end of his contract in 2004.
"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."
The demand by Sheffield, who hit .311 with 36 home runs and 100 RBI last season, didn't lead to the trade, Los Angeles GM Dan Evans insisted.
"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 believes 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, often the subject of trade rumors, hit .295 with 25 home runs and 97 RBI in 2001. He was plagued by injuries during his three years in Atlanta, although he often played through them.
"I'm still in shock," said Jordan, who makes his home in the Atlanta area. "This is going to take me away from my family. You get used to being home, and then you have to tell your kids we're going to be apart."
Jordan was more blunt in comments to the Atlanta Journal-Counstitution.
"It's like he stabbed me in the back," Jordan told the newspaper, recalling his conversation with the Braves general manager. "He said, 'We made a trade today and we got Sheffield.' I was like, 'Wow! Cool. Improve the team. That's awesome.' Then he said, 'You were involved in the trade.' And I said, 'You gotta be kidding me.'
"I'm still really just shocked. There's no loyalty in business. There's a way to do things, and a way not to do things. To find out like that? My agent didn't even know. It's a stab in the back but another lesson to learn. They put me on a mission."
A former NFL safety, Jordan's outspoken, fiery personality made him a leader in the clubhouse and a welcomed change to the Braves' laid-back style.
"You think all the trade rumors are put away, and you come back and have a good season and kind of prove yourself, and then this happens with no warning," Jordan said. "But business is business, and the Braves made it real clear that's the way they feel."
Schuerholz admitted trading Jordan was a tough decision.
"That's one of the difficult parts of this job," Schuerholz said. "When you have a deal you think is the right deal for your club and you have to tell good people like Brian Jordan they're being traded, it's difficult."
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), and the offensive woes led to the firing of batting coach Merv Rettenmund.
Atlanta has moved aggressively during the offseason to upgrade their run production. Vinny Castilla was signed to play third base, prompting the move of 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.
But Sheffield must show he can fit in with the rest of Atlanta's clubhouse. John Rocker was shunned by most of his teammates for disruptive behavior and wound up being traded.
"We think Gary is going to be a fine representative of the Atlanta Braves," Schuerholz said. "We have a lot of people in our organization who know Gary very well, and they think he's going to fit in fine."
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."
Sheffield, who lives in the Tampa Bay area, intends to build a home near Atlanta.
"He was surprised that this got done because Atlanta was one of the primary places he wanted to go to," said Sheffield's agent, Scott Boras. "He's just real happy it worked out."
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 RBI 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, who'll be 35 by the start of the season, 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 RBI 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 RBI.
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.
Perez filed for salary arbitration Tuesday. The other eligible player on the Dodgers, shortstop Alex Cora, agreed to a $625,000, one-year contract.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.