With Atlanta Braves baseball on hiatus, we reflect back on a very famous trade involving a couple of big baseball names between the Braves and the Cardinals.
What a wonderful time to revisit famous trades. Today we travel back in time to December of 2003. The Atlanta Braves were gearing up for a run at 13-consecutive division titles.
Sheffield was coming off of an incredible season in which he hit 39 homers, drove in 132 runs, stole 18 bags, and slashed .330/.419/.604. I’d also like to add that he only struck out 55 times in 2003. That’s a lot of offense to replace.
To make matters worse, longtime catcher Javy Lopez had finished fifth in MVP voting and crushed 43 bombs from the catcher position. He was set to take his talents to Baltimore as the Braves slashed payroll under the ownership of Time Warner Inc.
John Schuerholz led the Braves out of the dumps and to 14 straight division titles. He took the helm as general manager in 1991, which is the season that saw the Braves famously go from worst to first, and never looked back.
The offseason of 2003 presented him with quite a challenge. Were the Braves still going to contend in 2004 after losing all of that offensive firepower and slashing payroll?
After assessing the landscape, it became apparent that the Cardinals’ GM Walt Jocketty was shopping a former first-round draft pick, J.D. Drew.
The slugger only had one year remaining on his contract and had struggled with a slew of injuries. During his first six seasons in St. Louis, he never played more than 135 games in one year.
Schuerholz had his staff look into Drew’s medical records and they determined that he didn’t have any chronic issues. The negotiations began.