As most Orioles fans have figured out by now, it was a relatively drama-filled FanFest this past weekend at the Baltimore Convention Center. Outside of the no-shows, and the crowd’s general angst having seen no major additions to a flawed 2017 squad, a lot of buzz was generated following Adam Jones’s comments, or lack thereof, in regards to his contract situation.
Like teammates Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach, Jones’s deal is also set to expire at the end of the 2018 season. After being the face, and oftentimes voice, of the franchise for the last decade, it’s a bit weird to imagine Jones not patrolling the outfield of Camden Yards after this upcoming season. But when asked about finishing his career in Baltimore, Jones was quick and short with a response of “Ask Mr. Duquette.”
When Duquette was questioned by reporters, he basically confirmed that the Orioles have yet to have any significant conversations with Jones in regards to a new deal. He even mentioned that Jones’s agent has reached out to the club, but then made it clear that the Orioles haven’t quite responded. My question is why not?
After a relatively down 2016 by Jones’s standards, the Orioles’ center fielder bounced back in 2017 with a 2.5 WAR season. While his defensive metrics have declined, his bat was pretty much what Orioles fans have come to expect over the last decade with a .285 average and 26 home runs. On a team that suffered from extended slumps on offense, Jones provided a steady presence at the top of the Orioles’ lineup day in and day out.
If his on-field performance wasn’t enough, Jones also continued to shine in the clubhouse. As the de facto leader of the team, Jones sets an example every single time he hustles down that first base line. I mean just listen to what Showalter had to say back in 2015:
When we were deciding [in 2014] to sign Delmon [Young], I knew I had Adam. He does drills like it’s the seventh game of the World Series. When we got [outfielder Alejandro] De Aza last year, we heard he was a little lazy, but I didn’t worry because we had Adam. When we got [outfielder Travis] Snider [from Pittsburgh in January], I didn’t worry. [Outfielder] Nelson [Cruz] had figured out some short cuts when he got to us [in 2014], but the first day, we did some serious drills. He kind of asked, ‘We do these on the first day? Don’t we get some time to ease into it?’ Adam said, ‘We don’t do things that way here.’
It has always been clear that Jones’s impact to the Baltimore Orioles goes beyond sabermetrics, and that’s definitely something the Orioles front office needs to consider if, and hopefully when, they negotiate with the outfielder. Jones will eventually have to move to a less-valuable corner outfield position, but there will always be worth for the leader of a team and a community. Plus, a lot of us are still holding out hope for the return of the magic pies.
To be clear, there’s no guarantee at this time that Jones would even be interested in a return to Baltimore, particularly if the Orioles don’t continue to address the team’s needs. I’ve gotten the sense that Jones has been a little upset at the lack of quality additions to the squad after his documented conversations with Peter Angelos about the direction of the team. To top it all off, the overall vibe of FanFest certainly didn’t do anything to dissuade those who believe the team is in disarray behind the scenes.
The Orioles’ front office is facing a critical stretch that will essentially define the future path of the organization. If that direction winds up being a full-blown rebuild, I don’t think anyone can really blame Jones for wanting to finish his career elsewhere where he can win. That being said, I think it’s crucial that the Orioles at least start having some conversations with their center fielder’s agent.
It makes little sense for the Orioles to suddenly leave Jones in the dark and risk hurting their mutual trust. And there’s no real reason not to want Jones as part of the organization in 2019 and beyond. He’s been a fan favorite, a leader in the community, and despite entering his 13th season, is still just 32 years old. Certainly the future Orioles could find space for Jones’s bat in the outfield.
Do you want to see the Orioles commit to Adam Jones or at least make an attempt to lock him down in an Orioles uniform for the foreseeable future? What kind of deal do you think he would accept? Pop into the comments and let us know.