In the last day, I’ve posted interviews with six different writers, getting their thoughts on the Orioles. This is Part 3 of a 4 part series, where we are taking a closer look at the collective responses received.
The six writers interviewed (with links to their individual interviews) were:
Dan Szymborski, BBTF / ESPN
Jonathan Mitchell, MLB Dirt
Bob Harkins, NBC Sports
Gary Armida, Baseball Report / Baseball Digest
Here in Part 3, we are going to look at the question of if the O’s should be attempting to extend the contract of Adam Jones, or be trading him prior to Opening Day.
“In a Baseball America poll (http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/majors/best-tools/2011/2612213.html) of Major League Managers, Adam Jones was ranked as the 2nd best defensive CF in the American League. On the other-side you have the most advanced defensive metrics which state Jones is a below average CF. I tend to believe that the truth lies between those two extremes. Jones finished ’11 with a Weighted On Base Average (wOBA) of .339, and his Isolated Power (ISO) was .185. For the 2consecutive year, he has played in 149+ games. For the 3rd consecutive year his OPS fell within the range of .767 to .792. He finished with 25 homers, and 26 doubles. Jones is a Free Agent after the 2013 season. By Opening Day 2012, do you think the O’s need to have either extended him or traded him? If you would like to see him extended, what type of contract do you think would be fair?”
Szymborski: “I’m a believer in making decisions, pay or trade. The Orioles are not a competitive team as I write this, so treading water doesn’t make sense. All significant decisions the team makes should be long-term ones, not geared to maximizing wins in 2012. This is an element that’s been completely missing from the organization for 15 years now and a big contributor to the non-sexy results in the interim. I’d probably offer Jones a 3/30 extension and if he doesn’t bite, see if any GMs love his glove more than I do.”
Mitchell: “I think an extension would be great. He has 30 homer power and plays an adequate center. You don’t come by those guys easily. An extension in the 4yr $34M-$36M range sounds appropriate. He is due about $5.8M in 2012 through arbitration and likely $8M in 2013. The next two years buys out his first two in free agency at roughly $10M-$11M each. He would still hit the open market at age 30.”
Harkins: “I agree with you about Jones’ defense. I think it’s safe to call him an above-average center fielder who occasionally makes the spectacular play. On offense, he’s remained pretty static the last three seasons – good but not great. When you combine the offense and the defense, plus the fact that he is only entering his age 26 season, I think it’s definitely worth looking at an extension. Jones still has upside, but even if he never improves over what he is now, he’s still a valuable player. I think the wise course of action is to approach Jones with an extension offer, and if you can get him at a decent value and buy out at least some of his free agency years (4 years, $22 million?) then you do the deal. Otherwise, there is really no need to rush on this, as he’s not eligible for free agency until 2014, and a lot can happen in two years.”
Klaassen: “The short version of this is that the Orioles probably either need to extend Jones this off-season or start looking for a trade partner. After 2012, Jones will only have one year left to free agency, so if he’s healthy, he has not big incentive not to take arbitration and then test free agency after 2013., This is the onlytime left that the Orioles will probably have leverage. If they go to arbitration, Jones would probably get around $6 million, then with a dcent year, probably at least $9 million after 2013.
Taking all the evidence into account (statistical and otherwise), I think Jones is an average center fielder at best, at this point, and that might be generous. Once you adjust for the run environment, he probably had the best offensive season of his career in 2011> The improvement in power is nice, but Jones still a a free-swinger with below-average contact abilities While he’ll only be 26 to start 2012, that is not all that young, and so he probably is about as good as he will ever be, even if he is not yet in decline.
People often say “Team X should sign Player Y to a club-favorable contract.” Sure, by definition, any player should be signed to a “club favorable” contract (unless you are looking at it from the player or agent’s perspective). For the Orioles I would not go beyond something like 3/25 or 4/32 guaranteed for Jones, and even that might be a bit steep, depending on what you think of his defense. That would give him security and the Orioles some of his free agent years, while potentially adding value down the road if they want to trade him (club options are always nice, but that’s obvious). But they need to be thinking, “what can we do to maximize Jones value to us whther he keep him or trade him,” not “how can we build around Adam Jones. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong, weirder things have happened (Jose Bautista), and I’m wrong a lot.”
Pinto: “I think, like Markakis, Jones may be better off traded. He has not turned out to be an outstanding player. He has a little time, as he just entered his prime years, but 2200 at bats into his career he remains a out machine, and is just not the kind of player to build around.”
Armida: “Jones has tools, but I would wait until at least Spring Training of 2013 before thinking about extending him. I fear he becomes Alex Rios rather than Torii Hunter, which looks to be his ceiling. That type of contract depends on his growth over the next two seasons. I need an OBP better than .325 or .319 out of him. I need his defense to be more consistent, although I agree that defensive metrics are still having a hard time giving an accurate read on players. I’d wait to extend him. Actually, I might be in the minority, but I’d actually hope he gets off to a great start and trade him. He’s a good player, but I don’t think he’s a foundation player.”
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.