Jahmai Jones is at last on his way to join the Orioles. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported during the Monday off day that there is a series of roster moves coming. It’s what passes for seismic with this current roster, as third baseman Maikel Franco is set to be designated for assignment, with the Orioles calling up the prospect Jones to replace him. Additionally, Richie Martin was optioned to Norfolk, with Kelvin Gutierrez being recalled from the Tides.
The big conclusion to draw from Franco’s tenure with the Orioles is that there is probably a reason he was still available to be signed on March 16. Though the O’s brought him around in hopes that the 28-year-old’s bat might provide enough value for him to be flipped for some prospect at the trade deadline, it just never happened.
Franco closes out a 104-game O’s tenure with a batting line of .210/.253/.355. That sucks. He was a statue at third base and ran to first base like there was a washing machine strapped to his back.
Jones, who turned 24 earlier this month, was acquired by the Orioles back in February in the trade that sent Alex Cobb to the Angels. Jones had gotten a three game cup of coffee with the Angels last season, but the O’s chose to send him down to Norfolk rather than put him in the Opening Day roster mix, using the classic “working on his defense” excuse.
It was probably meant to give him some high-minors seasoning, too. Jones was at the Double-A level in 2019 and the pandemic season cost him a Triple-A assignment in 2020.
The Orioles system only had Jones in it for about a week of minor league games before he went down with an oblique injury that kept him out of action for about a month. Jones’s popularity increased substantially with fans as he OPSed over .900 for the month of June while in Baltimore we were watching Rio Ruiz, Pat Valaika, and Stevie Wilkerson take turns not hitting much while playing in the infield.
Jones has cooled off lately and is now batting .246/.336/.431 with the Tides. That’s a .766 OPS, which would be good for fourth-best on the Orioles right now. It’s not so easy to just port Triple-A performance exactly into MLB, of course. There will be some adjustments to be made.
Martin heads back down to Norfolk with a .589 OPS in 15 August games. He’s not hitting much and in recent nights it’s seemed like his shortstop defense has left something to be desired as well. The former Rule 5 pick is long past the days where he was the most interesting guy in the infield mix. Martin is 26 now and hasn’t looked like part of the answer in turning the rebuild effort into something better.
Along with this flurry of roster moves, the Orioles also claimed pitcher Conner Greene off waivers from the Dodgers. Greene had previously been designated for assignment by the Orioles on August 7 and claimed by the Dodgers. The Dodgers sent Greene back to the great DFA in the sky in turn on the 20th. Now he’s back. It’s the circle of life.
Maybe Jones will be up to the task and maybe he won’t, but at least he’ll get a shot rather than some of these other guys who’ve been failing in the earlier months of the season. An O’s infield with Jones and Jorge Mateo in it is a heck of a lot more interesting way to potentially fail than an O’s infield with Franco and Valaika or whoever.