Braves Sign Outfielder Brian Jordan
ATLANTA (AP) _ The Atlanta Braves gave Brian Jordan nearly everything he wanted _ a $40 million, five-year contract and the chance to play at home.
The only thing they couldn’t provide was his favorite number.
``We tried to get No. 3, but that one, as you know, is retired,″ said Braves general manager John Schuerholz, referring to the number worn by Dale Murphy. ``But we came up with the next best thing, 33.″
With that, Schuerholz held up an Atlanta uniform with Jordan’s name and new number. The outfielder, wearing a diamond-studded ``3″ on a gold chain around his neck, didn’t seem to mind a bit.
``I’ll just add another 3,″ he said with a grin Monday night at Turner Field, hours are agreeing to the contract with the Braves.
The Braves signed Jordan less than two weeks after making a big deal with Cincinnati. Atlanta sent pitcher Denny Neagle, right fielder Michael Tucker and a minor leaguer to the Reds for All-Star second baseman Bret Boone and pitcher Mike Remlinger.
By trading Tucker, the Braves created a gaping void in the outfield and immediately set their sights on Jordan, who played football with the Atlanta Falcons from 1989-91 and still lives in suburban Stone Mountain.
Jordan, in the final season of a $6.5 million, two-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, hit .316 with 25 homers, both career highs. He also had 91 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.
As a free agent, Jordan also was courted by the New York Mets, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. But, when the Braves met his asking price, he couldn’t resist the urge to play in his adopted home.
``That was the deciding factor,″ he said after an evening news conference at Turner Field, where he was flanked by wife, Pam, and their children, daughter Brianna, 7, and son, Bryson, 4. ``I wanted to be here with my kids. They’re at an age where daddy needs to be home with them.″
The deal calls for him to get a $3 million signing bonus, $4 million next season, $7 million in 2000, $8.5 million in 2001, $6 million in 2002 and $9 million in 2003.
Atlanta has a $10.5 million option for 2004 with a $2.5 million buyout. If the option is exercised, Jordan would get $48 million over six seasons. There are no trade limitations in the deal.
``I have always respected the Braves to the utmost,″ Jordan said. ``This is a great organization. They’re committed to winning year after year. I want to win.″
The Braves had the highest payroll in the National League this year ($61.8 million) and already have committed more than $66 million for next season with only 13 signed players.
``We have a team that, in many ways, is in its prime,″ said president Stan Kasten. ``As long as we’re in our prime, we’re going to keep pushing away at this rate.
``When this runs out, we may retool and do something different. But I think we can keep this philosophy for the next three to five years.″
The 31-year-old Jordan gives Atlanta another potent bat in a lineup that already produced a franchise-record 215 homers. The Braves now have six players _ Andres Galarraga, Javy Lopez, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Boone and Jordan _ who eclipsed 20 homers and had at least 90 RBIs in 1998.
The Braves are hoping Jordan and Boone bring a bit more passion to a team that has been accused of being too businesslike during an unprecedented run of seven straight postseason appearances.
During that span, the Braves have won only one World Series. They were beaten the last two seasons in the NL championship series, losing to San Diego in six games this year.
``It’s not like we were discontented with what we have,″ Schuerholz said. ``But sometimes you need to refresh the mix.″
Jordan, who played safety in a Falcons secondary that also included Deion Sanders, still keeps up with football but has no desire to attempt a Deion-like double in Atlanta. Besides, the Falcons are 9-2 and leading their division this season.
``They don’t need him,″ Schuerholz said.