As we sit down to watch the begining of the NFL playoffs this afternoon, I’m reminded that pitchers and catchers report roughly two weeks after the Super Bowl. Music to my ears! While people are still trying to figure out where Prince Fielder is going to end up, one of the big questions in Birdland is what to do with Adam Jones. Even dating back to the end of last season Jones has often been the subject of trade rumors in Baltimore, most recently this past week.
GM Dan Duquette was approached by the Atlanta Braves at the winter meetings, and again last week, regarding Jones. There were times when a deal appeared to be imminent, and times such as now when things appear to have cooled off. From what I can gather, the Orioles were asking for pitcher Jair Jurrjens and second baseman Martin Prado in exchange for Jones or perhaps a group of players/prospects involving Jones. How close the two sides have ever been to having a deal I’m not sure, however the Braves don’t appear willing to part with both of those players in a trade.
The primary reason Jones is being passive-aggressively shopped is due to the perception that he won’t re-sign with the Orioles. Jones is from the west coast, and the perception out there is that when he’s a free agent after next season he’ll be shopping his services in that region. Having said that, my personal opinion is that Adam Jones likes Baltimore and he likes the Orioles. I might be way off on that, but that’s the impression I get from the way he talks about the team and the city, and with the things he does in the community. So if he’s planning on leaving the Orioles to play closer to his home area, I suppose it won’t be an easy decision for him.
As I said above, Jones is under team control through the 2013 season. I suppose my point is that it’s a bit early to be discussing this. Granted the Orioles are probably right in that Jones will be harder to move for better value next off season, however the last thing they want is to go into spring training with one of their team leaders thinking he might be traded at some point. That traditionally doesn’t make for a good statistical season. In fact to further that point, the type of team that might be interested in a guy like Jones at this time next season would be a team that feels it’s a player away (a potential one-year rental). Guess who falls into that category; NY and Boston. (I suspect that the Red Sox would be looking for a centerfielder moreso than the Yankees given that NY has Curtis Granderson.) Could you imagine the Orioles having to trade a player like Jones to an arch-rival as such? Furthermore, they’d probably get pennies on the dollar for Jones given that he’d only have one year left on his contract.
Nevertheless, my personal stance is that Jones is worth more to the Orioles on the field than he is on the trading block. I maintain that he, along with Matt Wieters, are the best players on the team. I’m much more in favor of working out an extension with Jones as opposed to trading him. I think that Dan Duquette is probably on board with that also because he’s said on numerous occasions that he feels Jones is the type of player that you build around. The intention on the part of the Orioles appears to be to extend Jones. After the Birds got burned years ago with Mike Mussina walking to the Yankees, I think they learned their lesson a few years ago when they gave extensions to Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis. While those moves haven’t worked as the Orioles wanted to date, they do show that the team is committed to keeping it’s players. One hopes that the Jones situation is no different.
The wild card is what Jones wants to do. Dan Duquette must gauge (and possibly already has) what’s in Jones’ mind in terms of where he wants to play. If they feel that he’s going to look for a new place to play (possibly farther west) in two years, then I suppose they could start shopping him quietly. And again, that might be what they’re doing. To this point we’ve been told that the Orioles want to keep Jones because they want to build around him, however they have also listened to offers. Sometimes these things are nothing more than a game of chicken. How much bad PR would the Orioles get if they traded Jones to the Braves (thinking that he wanted to go out west) and Jones signed a contract extension upon his arrival? That’s enough for now, I have to get ready for the playoffs; pass the bean dip and chips!
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