Jocketty Discusses Drew/Wainwright Trade

The Adam Wainwright for J.D. Drew trade has caused a lot of controversy in the BravesNation. With Drew struggling to stay in the lineup and Wainwright being one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, the deal is getting scrutinized even more as of late. During Spring Training BravesCenter Editor Bill Shanks talked with Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty about the trade.

Q: Can you tell me how the Wainwright/Drew discussions got started?
A: "Actually John approached me first about Drew. I think they anticipated the possibility of not being able to re-sign Sheffield. He knew we were looking for pitching. He had offered me a couple of players, and we kind of backed off a little bit. Then as we got closer to the Winter Meetings things started to heat up a little bit. John was very aggressive. He really wanted Drew. He told me he would do whatever he had to do to get Drew. We had a problem because we had to try and include Marrero in the deal because of where we were with our budget. One thing led to another and it finally got down after a lot of discussion – it finally got down to the last day before we made the trade and I just told John, "We're going to have to have Wainwright." Because we felt we needed a top pitching prospect back in the deal. He was very reluctant to give him up obviously. But in the end he finally did and you're know we're very happy. Their system is very deep, and there were a lot of guys we were interested in. But we shot to the moon and Wainwright was the number one guy we had on our list but there were several guys that were very close. We held our ground and we were able to get him. We're very excited.

Q: In the press conference you made the statement about several different types of discussions you had with John.
A: Well actually we never had a conversation on the golf course. We started actually before the General Manager's meetings by phone. Then we had several discussions at the General Manager's meetings in different areas. Then the last night before we actually met the next day to make the deal we had a few after-dinner drinks and discussed it.

Q: What's it like to deal w/ John? I imagine it's not easy getting pitching from him.
A: No. John is shrewd. I've told him this: he's one of my idols. I've watched how he's operated over the years, and no General Manager has had the success that he's had. So you got to be a little cautious going into a deal with him because you know that he's made so many great deals. The thing I like about him is that he's right up front. A lot of guys talk ground and try to do different things. But I prefer to deal straight, right up front. That's the way John operates. That's why I said at the press conference at the time, it was like an old-fashioned baseball trade. A lot of it was just discussions between John and myself. A lot of times you go into a meeting, especially at the Winter Meetings, and you have a group of people. It's kind of a dog and pony show. This deal was just really John and I, and it was fun doing it. It's two guys who love the game and have some pretty good players and I think it's going to help both teams. I think J.D. is going to have a phenomenal year for the Braves, and Eli was a tough guy to give up."

Q: What were your reports telling you about Adam?
A: "Well our reports indicated that he had three or four quality pitches. It was a matter of experience before he'd be ready to pitch in the big leagues, and once he got there he had a chance to be a number one or two starter. He throws hard and has good curveball, good change up. He's a guy that has a very, very high ceiling."

Q: Did you feel you had to have their best pitching prospect to make the deal?
A: "Yes. Yes. Cause you know Ray King certainly is a guy who is going to be very serviceable for us. He'll do a great job and pitch a lot. Marquis is a guy we liked a lot, but there's some uncertainty as to where he was going to be. We feel good about him. But the key was to try to get one more guy, a guy we could build on for the future. That's what Wainwright represented to us. We gave up a lot of offense. We feel that J.D. Drew is an unbelievable talent, and a guy right on the verge if he stays healthy could have a breakout year for the Braves this year."

Q: Were you surprised that John gave Adam up?
A: "Yes. We sat in his suite that day. It was funny. I swear to God I knew when we went up there I knew what the dynamics of the room were going to be. It was going to be John and Frank (Wren). I knew that Bobby (Cox) was going to be in there, and I knew that Jim Fregosi was going to be in there. So I took my assistant, my manager, and Bob Gephart, who is my Vice President/Special Assistant kind of like Fregosi. We had the right dynamics of the room. I finally said to him, "John look we can't make this deal unless Wainwright is in there." He said, "Geez, you know, you want for us to take on all this money and you want for us to give you our best pitching prospect?" I said, "that's right." He said, "Let us have a little meeting outside." So they went into another room and talked about it and came back a few minutes later. We're sitting in his suite trying to anticipate what they're going to come back and do or say. John came and said, "Alright we'll make the deal." We shook hands and then it was a matter of getting the doctors involved to make sure everyone was healthy. It was pretty neat really."

Q: Was he still trying to make different counter-proposals?
A: Oh yea. Before they broke to go into the room to caucus, he thrown out a couple of other alternatives at me. I said, "No it's got to be Wainwright."

Q: Were there a lot of other teams talking to you about Drew?
A: Yes. They were at least four or five other teams. A couple of teams were very aggressive. But they didn't have the right mix for us. They didn't have the pitching. We had got three very quality pitchers in that deal, plus it allowed us to move some payroll so we were then able to go out and sign (Jeff) Suppan and (Reggie) Sanders.

Q: Who were the other teams that spoke to you about Drew?
A: The Dodgers. San Francisco. Boston had talked to us. Texas.

Q: When you need pitching, is it easy to say we'd be silly not to look at the Braves?
A: "Right. The strength of their organization is their pitching. They've got some pretty good position players too coming up, but they're very deep in pitching. So that was our best match. We matched up better with the Braves than anyone when making this deal.

Q: It's been written that people are afraid to deal with John because if he's trading someone away he may know more than you know about a player. Did that cross your mind?
A: It did. We felt that Wainwright was the guy that we had to have. They had had King and they had had Marquis at the major league level, so they knew a lot about those guys. That's why Wainwright was so important to get.

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