Adam Jones: Trade bait? (updated)

Steve Melewski of reported today that the Orioles are willing to entertain offers for centerfielder Adam Jones. So does that mean that I have to get rid of my Adam Jones merchandise? Hold your horses folks; just because they’re willing to entertain offers doesn’t mean that they’re going to pull the trigger. That aside, why would the O’s want to consider getting rid of a player like Adam Jones? He’s a player with all five tools, as well as the moxie to be a guy with whom Oriole fans identify for generations. So again, what are the arguements for and against doing this?

Trade Adam Jones – Whether you’re for or against trading Jones, there’s no question that he would yield a great return for the Birds. In fact, a trade involving Adam Jones might even be classified as a Blockbuster. However the fact is that Jones is a west coast guy, and there is some question amongst the fan base and amongst team management as to whether or not he wants to remain with the Orioles when his contract comes up after next year. But is this more of a geographic issue, or that combined with the fact that Jones feels he can never fulfill his full potential in Baltimore given the current climate? So if that is in fact the case, wouldn’t it be better to trade him and get something for him now rather than see him walk at the end of his contract?

Don’t trade Adam Jones – Using the two above reasons for Jones not wanting to come back, if the issue is the former the Orioles might be out of luck one way or the other. However if it has to do with the fact that Jones feels he can’t live up to his potential, the Orioles could easily step up to the plate this off season (and next) and surround him with a better team. This would help the O’s in the win/loss column, as well as make Jones a more productive player. That, combined with giving Jones a decent contract offer would potentially keep him with the Orioles.

You’ll notice that my reasons for keeping him look a bit more like ways that the Orioles can keep him. The reason for that is because I’m squarely in the camp which says that Adam Jones should be kept an Oriole almost at all costs. Not only is he a great player, but Jones is also the kind of guy that you build your team around (which is what Dan Duquette has said about him). Let us not forget the manner in which Andy MacPhail nickel and dimed the Seattle Mariners in order to get Jones in the first place. MacPhail knew Jones’ potential, and he wanted to capitalize on that. Granted if a great deal came about with big league ready talent and perhaps a prospect or two, perhaps the O’s would have to listen to it.

When I say that Jones is a guy that you build around, I mean that in more than one manner. Adam Jones is the type of player on and off the field who could define a generation of Oriole fans. My generation is identified with the likes of Cal Ripken Jr and Eddie Murray, while that of my father is identified with the likes of Brooks and Frank (Robinson). What all of those guys have in common is that they were superstars on the field and in the community. Having met Jones on several occasions and being familiar with his community involvement, he’s cut very much from the same cloth. Jones was the Orioles’ 2011 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente award due in large part to his numerous appearances at Boys and Girls clubs in the city of Baltimore, his work with Baltimore’s Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI), all among other things.

I mentioned that I had met Jones on a few occasions; these meetings were all at the ballpark before games. He’s extremely coordial with fans in the stands, and he seems extremely respectful of the fact that people look up to him as a role model in the community. On a personal note, at last year’s Oriole FanFest, my sister waited in line to meet (and have her picture taken with) Jones for an hour or so. When she got to the front of the line, it was made clear to her that Jones wasn’t feeling well, and that he might be leaving the line sooner than originally planned. Everyone in line was very sympathetic to this, as we all deal with being under the weather at some point. However Jones stayed the allotted amount of time and my sister got her picture. Again, he seems to have a genuine respect for the fans.

I don’t want people to think that in my opinion Jones is unmovable, because that’s not the case. I’m just saying that it should be an offer that blows Dan Duquette away before he would consider it. The above-mentioned qualities combined with Jones’ skills make him into a player who as I said could be identifiable with a generation of Oriole fans. In the mean time, the Orioles do need to start gauging Jones’ intentions for after 2013. Translated, they need to talk to him about an extension. If he’s open to the idea and/or expresses the urge to stay in Baltimore, they need to move with that. If not, then perhaps trading him at some point down the line isn’t out of the question. However I would hope that Duquette would ensure to exhaust all options to keep Jones before pulling the trigger…unless the deal is too good to turn down that is. (What the definition of what that would be is another story.)

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala

UPDATE – GM Dan Duquette announced late yesterday that the Orioles were not entertaining trade offers for Adam Jones at this time.

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