NATIONAL LEAGUE Rockies trade OF Walker to Cardinals



Colorado acquired minor league pitcher Jason Burch.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Star outfielder Larry Walker was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night for minor league pitcher Jason Burch and two players to be named.
The addition of Walker, a three-time NL batting champion, gives the Cardinals a power-packed lineup that also includes Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds. They began Friday night with the best record in the major leagues.
The only time Walker has played in the postseason was in 1995 with the Rockies, who were eliminated in the first round.
"This is a great opportunity for him to go to a great baseball city and have a chance to win a world championship," Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "We tried very hard to put him in a city where he can accomplish his dream of winning a world championship."
The 1997 NL MVP, a seven-time Gold Glove winner, cleared waivers and agreed not to block the deal with his no-trade clause. Colorado is paying St. Louis $7.5 million as part of the trade.
Walker, 37, said no to a trade to the Texas Rangers just before the July 31 deadline for deals without waivers. In November 2002, he blocked a trade to Arizona for Matt Williams, who also vetoed the deal.
Walker's salary, age and history of injuries surely led to him passing through waivers. He didn't play this season until June 22 because of a groin strain, then hit three homers three days later in Cleveland. He has been on the disabled list eight times in his 16-year career.
He is in the fifth season of a $76 million, six-year contract that pays him $12.5 million each in 2004 and 2005. The deal has a 2006 team option at $15 million with a $1 million buyout.
Colorado agreed to pay $7.5 million of his 2005 salary.
Good career
The best player ever to come out of Canada, Walker has a career average of .315 with 357 homers and 1,232 RBIs. He has batted .300 nine times, including an NL-leading .379 in 1999.
"He has had a great career here and accomplished so much in a Rockies uniform, it is really bittersweet," O'Dowd said. "He didn't initiate it at all. I initiated all the conversations. When a player is at a certain point in his career, then you know there are certain things that he is looking for."
Walker, who was batting .324 with six homers and 20 RBIs in 108 at-bats this season, was held out of the Rockies' lineup Friday night against the Reds.
He has said in recent weeks he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to a playoff-contending team. One of his two Colorado homes is on the market.
St. Louis began the night with a 9 1/2-game lead in the NL Central. Reggie Sanders, who has been starting in right field, probably will move to left to make room for Walker.
The 21-year-old Burch was 5-5 with a 3.61 ERA and 21 saves at Class-A Peoria. He was selected in the 21st round of the 2003 draft out of Nebraska.
Colorado began the night fourth in the NL West at 47-61.
"Larry is 38 and he was not going to be with us after next year," O'Dowd said. "This gave us the best opportunity to put him somewhere with a chance to win, and it gives Matt Holliday the opportunity to play every day."

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