Baltimore Orioles: What does the future hold for Adam Jones?

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 30: Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles waves to crowd after being pulled from the game in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 30: Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles waves to crowd after being pulled from the game in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Orioles won’t be re-signing outfielder Adam Jones in 2019; we can be almost certain of that. However, he will play baseball next year. Where will he end up, and what will his contract look like?

Adam Jones is one of the most beloved players in Baltimore Orioles history; nothing will change that. However, with the Orioles facing a full-scale rebuild, there’s little incentive for them to bring Jones back in 2019.

Jones is on the wrong side of the aging curve but he’s still a viable option at all three outfield spots, and he provides enough upside at the plate for him to be an everyday player for a major league team.

At the trade deadline this year Jones refused a trade to the Phillies, who wanted to use Jones in more of a platoon role. We can assume that one of the reasons why Jones didn’t want to move was his connection with the city of Baltimore. He and his wife Audie have built their lives here and we know that he loves this city.

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But we’ve been led to believe that a big reason why he didn’t accept the trade to Philly was that he’d have been in a platoon role for the second half of the season. Maybe Jones didn’t consider the Phillies serious contenders and he didn’t want to platoon for a non-playoff team.

But two months ago, Jones chose to play for a terrible team in a full-time role, rather than sacrifice some playing time and contribute on a more competitive team.

Maybe the situation is different if the Astros or the Cubs were calling; if Jones had a real chance to play for a title, maybe he’d have accepted a non-everyday role.

But if that was the case two months ago, there’s nothing to suggest that he’d consider a platoon role when negotiating a contract this offseason.

Heading into 2019, we can assume that Jones will be looking for a considerably expensive contract with a team where he can play every day. It’s hard to envision Jones taking a hefty pay cut, though the market will dictate that moreso than Jones will.

Camden Depot is in the midst of its annual BORAS projections, and Jones came up with the CF projections yesterday.

They have Jones projected for a 2 year contract worth $18.7 million. They mentioned it too, but it’s tough to see Jones taking a contract with an AAV of less than $10 million per year.

Coming off his 6/85.5 million deal, and his $17 million salary in 2018, that’d be a pay cut of almost $10 million per year. Again, the market will dictate Jones’ salary next year, but it seems unlikely that Jones would settle for $9 million per year.

I’d guess that he ends up closer to the 2/24, or 3/35 range. I don’t think he gets a four-year deal because he’s heading into his age-34 season; even a three-year deal might be pushing it.

While Jones can still play center field, the team signing him might be keen on playing him in one of the corners, as Jones’ speed has diminished with his age. That could further detriment his ultimate contract value, but still, a three-year deal doesn’t feel far fetched.

So, where could Jones end up?

Realistically, there are a bunch of teams who could use a player like Jones. However, not as many will be willing to pay for him. We have to consider all the factors here, not just if Jones would improve the roster.

Four quick options; these teams should be looking to contend in 2019 but all finished near the bottom of the fWAR leaderboard for outfielders. All would have the cap space to sign Jones if they were interested.

Phillies – We know that Jones didn’t want to platoon in Philly for the second half of 2018 but he could certainly improve their offense. He’s likely a better option than Nick Williams or Aaron Altherr, although those two plus Dylan Cozens will be vying for playing time for them.

Rockies – The Rockies offense was completely inflated by Coors Field in 2018; their 87 wRC+ (park adjusted) actually tied the Orioles for 26th in MLB this year. Their offense is very top heavy and with the impending free-agency of Carlos Gonzalez, they’ll be looking for OF help. Jones would fit nicely into their offense, and would get a boost from playing in Coors everyday.

Indians – The Indians won the AL Central without much effort this year but their offense stagnated in the playoffs and they got obliterated by the Astros in the ALDS. Michael Brantley is the only sure thing in the Indians outfield next year; Jones could take advantage of the weaker AL Central while the Indians are still head and shoulders above the competition.

Mariners – It wouldn’t be a homecoming in the real sense of the word, but the Mariners need all the help they can get, and they’ll surely be buying this offseason. Look at it this way: Denard Span played a big role in the M’s offense this year; Jones would be a big upgrade for the Mariners.

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Regardless of what happens with Jones this offseason, we’ll be rooting for him in 2019. He’s done nothing but earn our respect during his time in Baltimore and we’re curious to see where he lands next year.