Baltimore Orioles: What a reunion with Adam Jones might look like
Happy Tuesday, Baltimore Orioles fans! There’s still nothing happening in Birdland but we’re now just seven days from pitchers and catchers reporting to Sarasota
Welcome to February 5th, where the Baltimore Orioles aren’t doing much, at least from a public perspective. Today is Yolbert Sanchez day but other than that, things are quiet around the warehouse.
Because of that, let’s take a trip into an alternate reality; one where the Orioles re-sign former outfielder Adam Jones.
Where is Adam Jones now?
Jones hit the free-agent market after the 2018 season and since then, the Orioles haven’t expressed much interest in bringing the former star outfielder back to Baltimore. One reason why is because Jones doesn’t really fit within the Orioles rebuild.
Heading into his age-33 season, Jones is on the wrong side of the aging curve and by all accounts should command a higher salary than what the Orioles would seemingly be willing to pay.
Let’s not forget that this team reportedly felt uncomfortable spending in the one-year, $5 million dollar range for shortstop Freddy Galvis. That’s probably as much a knock on Galvis as it is the salary, but the point stands.
But Jones is coming off a 2018 season in which he made $17 million. It was admittedly his worst season since 2008, with Jones hitting .281/.313/.419 with just 15 home-runs and 0.2 bWAR. Jones probably doesn’t deserve $17 million AAV, but we’d have guessed a multi-year contract worth at least eight-figures.
However, that very well might not be the case. Jones could slot into several major league lineups and help out in a big way, specifically in Cleveland and Arizona, but his market is shrinking with every passing day.
The way things are heading, Jones’ market value might drop to the point where he’s available on a one-year deal in the $5 million dollar range. If that’s the case, Jones might be in play for Mike Elias and the Orioles.
Outfield might be the one place where the Baltimore Orioles don’t necessarily need to add depth, plus, Jones will almost certainly want to play everyday which doesn’t suit the O’s needs. But at that price, it’s not unrealistic. Say the Orioles jump on it.
How does 2019 play out with Jones on the roster?
Well for one, it’d probably stunt any opportunity DJ Stewart might have to cement himself as a part of the Orioles lineup going forward.
Stewart is headed for a battle with both Austin Hays and Joey Rickard for playing time in right-field, at least to start the season.
One would assume that if Hays is ready, he’s going to play. He dealt with injuries and bad luck last year, but in a healthy effort in 2017, Hays posted a .958 OPS in 563 plate appearances. He’s still a top prospect, as noted in our top-10 list here, and in Fangraphs’ assessment.
Add Jones to the mix and the outfield would become Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins and Adam Jones, with Hays splitting time in the corners.
Stewart would spend time getting everyday reps in Norfolk, due to his remaining minor league options, and Rickard is most likely a roster casualty.
This works in our alternate reality because it’d allow Hays to ease into outfield reps after struggling to stay healthy last year, and because Jones would help provide leadership in a clubhouse with very little experience.
Once the Orioles [hopefully] trade Mark Trumbo, it’d open up an outfield spot as Mancini would be moved back to his true defensive position at first base. Stewart would get called back up and become the fourth outfielder at that point, at least until Yusniel Diaz was deemed ready for major league action.
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So somewhere near mid-season, the Baltimore Orioles outfield would be Jones, Mullins and Hays, with Stewart serving in the fourth-outfielder role and Diaz waiting for a September call-up.
That’s more palatable than if Jones were taking time away from any of the prospects.
Toward the end of the season, Jones would start losing time to the four guys in the mix and just like 2018, he’d end up sitting out games in September. We’d say goodbye to him similar to how we did last year, and it’d feel much the same.
Was it worth it?
Jones would likely put up respectable numbers in Baltimore and as an astute veteran, he’d help the younger kids acclimate to the majors quickly. But despite his affordability and reliability, he’d take playing time away from Austin Hays, DJ Stewart and Yusniel Diaz.
As fans, we’d have to watch Jones’ career continue to come to a close and suffer through another long, awkward goodbye to one of our favorite baseball players of all-time. We already said our goodbyes to Jones; doing it again would be strange and uncomfortable. So no, it wouldn’t be worth it.
Sign somewhere else, Adam Jones. Sign with a team we’re comfortable rooting for, and that’ll give you an opportunity to get back to the postseason.
Where is baseball? We need baseball.