Andruw Jones will be playing center field at Turner Field after all next season.
The 10-time Gold Glove winner will be doing it in a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform, however.
Getting less than what agent Scott Boras had once forecast, the former Atlanta Braves fan favorite received a two-year free agent contract worth $36 million from the Dodgers on Thursday.
Boras had scared off the Braves with talk of a five-year contract worth $100 million. In the end Jones had to settle for a short-term contract but still lucrative deal after a 2007 season in which he hit just .222.
A two-year deal might have been attractive to the Braves. But John Schuerholz announced shortly before moving from general manager to president that the team wouldn't pursue Jones and any chance of a change of mind ended when the Braves declined to offer salary arbitration.
The Dodgers gave Jones a $12 million signing bonus along with a salary of $9 million in 2008 and $15 million in 2009. The 30-year-old made $14 million in the final season of his long-term deal with the Braves.
Jones, whose average pay will be the fifth highest in baseball, gets to be reunited with shortstop Rafael Furcal in Los Angeles. Furcal, a close friend, left the Braves as a free agent after the 2005 season.
The Dodgers will play in Atlanta on April 18-20. The teams play in Los Angeles during June.
It will be interesting to see who is in center field for the Braves now. The top candidates are Josh Anderson, who made his debut with the Houston Astros late last season, and top prospect Jordan Schafer, who has never played above Class A.
Jones will supply the Dodgers with the bat they were seeking if he can bounce back from the worst year of his career.
Jones' average dropped drastically in 2007 and his power numbers suffered as well. He finished with 26 homers and 94 RBIs.
The Sugarloaf resident led the majors with 51 homers and topped the National League with 128 RBIs in 2005, finishing third in the MVP voting. In his 10 full seasons with the Braves, Jones averaged 35 homers and 103 RBIs.
But all his diving catches have taken a toll on the body and that hurt his chances of a long-term deal. The Kansas City Royals were the only team other than the Dodgers who showed much interest in Jones and general manager Dayton Moore said that he didn't make a contract offer.
Los Angeles had little power last season and also was weak defensively in the outfield. With the signing of Jones, weak-armed Juan Pierre will move to left field.
The signing of Jones is the first major move by the Dodgers since the hiring of Joe Torre as manager. It was against Torre's Yankees that Jones hit two homers in a World Series game as a 19-year-old in 1996.
The Baseball Winter Meetings ended quietly Thursday for the Braves, who made their only trade on Tuesday. Left-handed reliever Will Ohman and utilityman Omar Infante were acquired by general manager Frank Wren from the Chicago Cub for pitching prospect Jose Ascanio.
The Braves didn't make a selection in the Rule 5 draft, although they did lose one player in the major league phase. Right-handed pitcher Sergio Valenzuela, who pitched in Class A with Rome and Myrtle Beach last season, was claimed for $50,000 by Cincinnati. He must be offered back to the Braves if he doesn't stick with the Reds next season.
The Braves are still exploring the possibility of adding a veteran center fielder, as well as an experienced backup catcher. Wren has said that the team has no interest in former Braves catcher Javy Lopez, who didn't play last season after being released by Colorado.
The Braves' big offseason moves have been the trade of shortstop Edgar Renteria to Detroit and the return of left-handed starter Tom Glavine, a 300-game winner, as a free agent.
SideBar: The Jones File
Who: Andruw Jones
Position: Center field
New team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Contract: $36 million over two seasons
2007 season: Hit .222 with 26 homers and 94 RBIs for the Braves
Career notables: Winner of a Gold Glove each of his 10 full seasons in the majors, when he averaged 35 homers and 103 RBIs. Led the majors with 51 homers in 2005. Hit two homers in a World Series game against the Yankees as a 19-year-old in 1996.