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Orioles face harsh reality of Adam Jones’ potential exit

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Adam Jones has been the face of the franchise for years now, but his time with the Orioles may be coming to a close. 

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Adam Jones will be a free agent at year’s end, at which time he will be 33 years old. He has been a model of consistency during his time with the O’s and a positive example both on and off the field.

Very quietly, Jones is putting together a solid 2018 campaign. He owns a .289/.314/.447 triple slash line through 75 games with 10 home runs and 31 RBI. He does only have nine walks, but plate discipline has never been his calling card. As of Wednesday night, ESPN projections had him on pace for 21 home runs and 64 RBI. In his first 10 full seasons with the Orioles, Jones has averaged roughly 24 home runs and 80 RBI each year.

It’s hard to imagine the Orioles without Adam Jones, just as it seems odd to imagine the team without Manny Machado. But with each day that passes we draw closer to the July 31 trade deadline and when that time comes, Baltimore’s roster should look drastically different.

The Seattle Mariners were recently in town to play the Orioles and Nelson Cruz took the chance to make a few comments to the media regarding Jones. He was very complimentary, even going as far as to say Jones would fit in well with the Mariners. Call it recruiting or call it simply a compliment, but Cruz’s comments reiterate the very real possibility that Jones could be traded to a contender later this summer:

“I know how hard [Jones] plays, how much he loves the game,” Cruz said on Glenn Clark Radio June 26. “It would be awesome to have him in the lineup [with] what he can do defensively, what he can do with his bat, his personality. … It would be a great trade, and we would be happy to have him.”

Jones’ stellar reputation precedes him. He posts up every single day and he grinds, as he and Buck Showalter like to say. And if Jones were traded to Seattle, he would already have some familiarity with that team.

The Mariners selected Jones in the first round of the 2003 MLB draft out of San Diego, California. He was first called up to the majors in 2006 at the young age of 20. From 2006-2007, Jones accumulated 139 at-bats in the big leagues with Seattle, hitting .230/.267/.353 with three home runs, 12 RBI and five stolen bases.

Then came the famous — or infamous, depending on your viewpoint — Erik Bedard trade, when Jones was sent to Baltimore along with Chris Tillman, George Sherrill and a few others. Jones won over fans in Birdland quickly with his outgoing personality and hard-nosed style of play.

Over the course of his first 10 years with the Orioles, Jones has won four Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger and made five All-Star appearances. He also ranks highly among franchise leaders in several offensive categories. Jones is fifth all-time in hits for the Orioles with 1,709 and seventh in runs with 854. He ranks ninth all-time in doubles with 289, fifth in home runs with 258 and sixth in RBI with 834. You don’t accumulate those kinds of numbers without longevity.

Adam Jones’ 10-5 rights, as noted in this piece by Roch Kubatko, make it so that he must approve a trade to any team. His veteran status works in his favor at this juncture, seeing that he has spent 11 plus seasons with the same team, the Orioles. This year is actually his 13th season, taking into account his first two years when he had limited at-bats with the Mariners.

Judging by Jones’ past comments, it’s not hard to see a scenario where he approves a trade to a contender. Back in spring training, Jones expressed his desire to play for a winner, as relayed in this piece by Eduardo Encina:

“It’s not about money. I’ve got it. It’s winning. I’ve got a lot of friends with rings, hardware. My friend Cameron Maybin, he won a ring last year. My friend Quintin Berry got a ring. Dontrelle [Willis] got a ring. Edwin Jackson got a ring. I’ve got a bunch of friends with rings and I ain’t got no ring, so I want to play for something.”

Jones’ chance to play for a ring this year in Baltimore has evaporated. And if he wants to win a ring within the next couple years he will probably have to do so elsewhere, judging by the current trajectory of the Orioles.