<
>

Braves acquire Drew in deal with Cards

NEW ORLEANS -- Needing run production and a right fielder,
the Atlanta Braves were willing to part with pitching and take a
chance on J.D. Drew.

The Braves acquired the oft-injured outfielder from the St.
Louis Cardinals along with Eli Marrero on Saturday for former
first-round draft picks Jason Marquis and Adam Wainright, and
reliever Ray King.

"Adam is our No. 1 pitching prospect and that was tough to do,
but under the circumstances we had no choice," Braves general
manager John Schuerholz said.

Drew replaces Gary Sheffield, who became a free agent and for
weeks has been close to agreement with the New York Yankees.

St. Louis took Drew with the fifth pick of the 1998 amateur
draft, but he has been plagued by injuries, never playing more than
135 games in a season. He made five trips to the DL in the last
four seasons for a total of 121 days.

Drew, 28, hit .289 last season with 15 homers and 42 RBI in
just 100 games. Atlanta's doctors spoke with the St. Louis doctors
before the deal.

"He's been a guy that has been touted with all kinds of talent
through the years," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
"Unfortunately, he's had all kinds of injuries."

"Our biggest concern is that he could have his breakout year,"
Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said. "It's something we
agonized about."

Drew is eligible for free agency after next season and is
represented by Scott Boras, whose clients almost always test the
market. But he is a Georgia native, and is likely to increase his
marketability in Atlanta.

"The fact that he's a south Georgian and still lives in Georgia
adds to the equation," Schuerholz said.

Atlanta lost Sheffield and Javy Lopez, who both filed for free
agency. Marrero, who can play outfield and catcher, batted .224
with two homers and 20 RBI in just 107 at-bats last season,
missing 101 games because of a torn ligament in his right ankle.

"He's capable of stealing 30 bases," Cox said. "I think he'll
see a lot of playing time. He's not just a throw-in, we want him."

Marquis, a 25-year-old right-hander, was Atlanta's top pick in
the 1996 amateur draft and Wainwright was the Braves' first choice
in 2000. He was 0-0 with a 5.53 ERA in two starts and 19 relief
appearances last season.

Wainwright, a 22-year-old righty, was 10-8 with a 3.37 ERA in 27
starts for Double-A Greenville last season and probably will start
next season at Triple-A.

King, a 29-year-old left-hander, was 3-4 with a 3.51 ERA in 80
relief appearances last season.

"We felt that without pitching, we weren't going to have a
chance to improve in the standings next year," Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa said.

Several teams had spoken with the Cardinals about Drew,
including the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"There were a couple deals we could have done," Jocketty said.
"We just felt this was the best overall for us."

Time Warner Inc., the Braves owner, ordered the team to cut its
payroll, which was $95 million last season. Drew is eligible for
salary arbitration and while Schuerholz is open to a multiyear
deal, he isn't counting on it.