With less than three weeks to go until Opening Day, Adam Jones finally has an MLB team for 2019. It’s not the Orioles. Former MLBer Dontrelle Willis broke the news on Sunday that Jones would be signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks, although the deal is still pending a physical before it is complete. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the contract comes with $3 million in guaranteed money.
A reunion between the O’s and Jones always seemed to be unlikely going back to late last season, when the team moved more decisively in a rebuilding direction. Still, as long as he remained unsigned, even though GM Mike Elias made repeated polite rejections of the idea that the O’s should sign Jones, you couldn’t help but wonder, “Well, what if...” Now it’s settled where he’s going.
Jones has been the greatest Oriole of the 21st century to date. There’s no question about it. It’s sad that things got to a point where the O’s aren’t the right fit for him any more, but that’s how it is. The O’s are going to try out some young players as they try to build the next competitive team. They have a lot of young outfielders in the mix.
Even if the Orioles need some kind of stabilizing “veteran presence,” the outfield isn’t where they need it. There’s Yusniel Diaz, Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, DJ Stewart, Ryan McKenna, and even fringe acquisitions like Dwight Smith Jr. and Eric Young Jr., plus the possibility that the team may still end up with the Chris Davis/Mark Trumbo 1B/DH logjam forcing Trey Mancini out into left field.
For all the good memories that O’s fans have of Jones, it’s little mystery why he stayed on the market so long. He is 33 now, and coming off a season where he batted a pedestrian .281/.313/.419 with just 15 home runs. That was his lowest home run total since 2008, and when you factor in his move from center field over to right field, that’s a big decrease in value compared to a few years ago.
Jones should be an improvement for Arizona even if his skills are diminished. Baseball Reference stats show that D-backs right fielders combined to bat .207/.281/.325 last year. Listed at the top of their right field depth chart before the Jones signing was Steven Souza Jr., the best-hitting of the 2018 D-backs right fielders with a .678 OPS.
The Diamondbacks had already signed catcher Caleb Joseph in the offseason, so the addition of Jones means there’s a nice little ex-Oriole group to root for in the NL West. Good luck to Adam this year in Arizona and anywhere else that his career may take him.