Adam Jones remains unsigned on free-agent market, but it's unlikely he'll be back -

Rich Dubroff

Adam Jones remains unsigned on free-agent market, but it’s unlikely he’ll be back

With less than six weeks until spring training, there are dozens of free agents on the market, including some of the most popular Orioles in recent years.

While Manny Machado is expected to sign a mammoth contract, perhaps with the Yankees in the coming days, and Zach Britton has been getting lots of attention, arguably the most popular of the recent Orioles hasn’t attracted much attention.

Adam Jones, who represented the Orioles nobly for the past decade, hoped to be a sought-after free agent, but it doesn’t look likely now.

When the free-agent season began, predicted that Jones would land a one-year, $8-million contract with Cleveland. Jones was ranked 46th on their list of top 50 free agents.

Jones who turned 33 in August, would like a multi-year contract, but might have to settle for a one-year deal.

The lack of attention has counterintuitively encouraged many Orioles fans who who would like to see him return. The Orioles could use a right fielder, and why not bring back Jones for another year or two?

Selfishly, I would like that. I’ve always been a Jones supporter, and his outgoing personality makes for great copy. Without him, there’s no logical leader.

Jones leads by example. In eight of his last nine seasons with the Orioles, Jones played at least 145 games, choosing to play with nagging—and sometimes worse—injuries.

Although his offensive numbers slipped last season, they were still relatively strong. He batted .281, which was just three points above his career average. His 15 home runs and 63 RBIs were the lowest since 2008, his first year with the Orioles, and his OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .732, was below his career average of .774 but not embarrassing.


Jones’ offensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was 2.6, but his defensive WAR (dWAR) fell dramatically to -2.3. His play in center field encouraged the Orioles to add Cedric Mullins in August and move Jones to right field. The change hurt badly, but Jones handled it with class.

If the Orioles don’t have an obvious right fielder, should they consider Jones?

The regime of general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde is unfamiliar with Jones, and sentiment doesn’t appear to be an important consideration.

However, DJ Stewart played just 17 September games for the Orioles, and just three were starts in right. The Orioles had hoped that Austin Hays would have been their right fielder sometime last season, but injuries truncated his season, and he didn’t perform well at Double-A Bowie when he played.

Mark Trumbo is a liability in the field, and Joey Rickard isn’t considered as a full-time candidate. Yusniel Diaz and Ryan McKenna had rocky stints at Bowie and need more time in the minors.

Jones could have moved on at the end of July, but vetoed a proposed trade to Philadelphia.

Former executive vice president Dan Duquette’s brusque public comments about Jones didn’t help the situation. Jones had earned the right to nix the deal with 10 years of major league service and five with the Orioles.

Even if Elias wanted to sign Jones, that veto power works against a Jones return.

He’s indicated he’ll be interested in free agents as prices come down, but some of them would be signed for their ability to bring back players in return in July deals.

That wouldn’t be possible with Jones, who would continue to have veto power with the Orioles, but not with any of the other 29 major league teams and is unlikely to waive that provision for what could be a four-month stint with the Orioles in 2019.

When Andrew McCutchen signed a three-year, $50-million deal with an option for 2022 with the Phillies, some Jones supporters thought he could get a deal close to that.

But McCutchen is a year younger and has a career 42 WAR while Jones’ is 32.4, and he played a full season in right field in 2018.

Although a Jones return to the Orioles makes sense on many levels, the guess here is that he’ll sign elsewhere, hopefully with a contender, and that team will be happy to have him.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. ClyOs

    January 3, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Rich, I agree I’d love to see Joney back with the O’s. He isn’t the player he was a few years ago, but is still better than average, and as you mentioned a class act. Fact is the only knock I every had on Adam was his free swinging at the plate. Personally, however, I don’t think we will see a lot of middle level free agent signings until the top-tier free agents, Machado and Harper, sign. Typically that’s how it goes every year.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2019 at 7:55 am

      I think you’re right, ClyOs.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 3, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Rich, as far as you know, has Elias been directly asked about his thoughts on Adam Jones returning? And if so, what was his response?

    I would hope that Elias would seriously consider bringing Jones back for another year or two if Adam so desires and is reasonable in his demands. Analytics aside, it’s this old codger’s opionion that baseball has always been the most romantic of sports, and that a player’s legacy with his franchise as well as his relationship with the community and it’s fans should still carry some weight in such a decision. Hopefully Mr. Elias is not so short sighted to acknowledge that. Adam Jones is a very special case.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Boog, Elias was asked about Jones at the Winter Meetings and was complimentary, but said nothing specific that would encourage talk of a reunion.

  3. bmorebirds

    January 3, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Happy 2019, Rich. I LOVE Adam Jones, but see nothing to be gained by placing a 33-year-old on a team that will be serve as a talent incubator this year and in 2020, before the 2021 playoff team arrives (yep, sticking with that prediction).

    Yes, Jones always hustled , always respected the game and was legendary for his good deeds around Baltimore. But his presence didn’t keep the 2018 Birds from dropping 115 games. Time to turn the page. Good luck moving forward, Mr. Jones.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2019 at 9:08 am

      Happy New Year to you, bmorebirds. I think Mike Elias agrees with you.

  4. Delsym

    January 3, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Young players need MENTORS ownership must appreciate this, he’s not a defensive liability in right, just do it. Chemistry matters. I’m not really ready to throw in the towel altogether and if ownership wants or expects any blind loyalty, it ain’t coming. I’ve been a die hard Orioles fan from 10 years of age, but I am 57 now and still hopeful that we can compete, just need a lot of pieces to fall in place. Need some continuity and Davis can’t do it and resurrect his career at the same time, Adam does impact this team. Perhaps we could entertain spending some cash for short term hope and interest…Schoop or Markakis? Adam to Left and DH multiple rookies. I like the Opener idea with our young studs, letting them go till they fade, but giving them regular opportunities. Just draft and wait, and pray for limited injuries…our pitchers could be special when they arrive and perform…Keep em all and perhaps Bundy and Harvey can show their ACE stuff and we can surprise the world with defensive support and some speed infusion?? Always hopeful, but don’t tear it all down…PLEASE!!

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      Delsym, Schoop signed with Minnesota.

  5. PA Bird Lover

    January 3, 2019 at 10:33 am

    It’s a case of wait and see. Jones is not washed up by any stretch. He just might have his best year still in him, who knows. The only thing for certain is the green new O’s players, we will anxiously be watching this summer, will need a veteran or two to turn to for advice and mentoring. Adam is one of those veterans. ME better see it that way and that’s my opinion.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      PA, I don’t expect Jones back.

  6. Orial

    January 3, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Jones’ return would simply be sentimental. If Buck was still here I’d say maybe for popular reasons(leadership,clubhouse presence) but this is Hyde’s team now. Though I think Hyde and Jones would get along Im sure there still would be a territorial clash to a minor degree. Time to move on.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2019 at 6:14 pm

      Orial, I think the new regime is looking at things with a fresh eye.

  7. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    January 3, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Like many fans I would like to see Jones return. The Orioles have a lot of outfield prospects. However, as noted have either not performed well in the minors or lack mlb experience there. Also, clubhouse leaders/mentors are important in the development of young players. Jones could fill that role nicely for the Orioles.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2019 at 6:14 pm

      I agree, Grand Strand, but I don’t think Mike Elias sees it that way.

  8. willmiranda

    January 3, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Time marches on. I don’t think, at this time, that Jones and the team have compatible desiderata. A reunion will happen only if neither of them gets what is really wanted. I don’t know about Adam, but I don’t think the new regime is willing to settle on something simply for want of anything better. The right field “vacancy” is needed to audition multiple prospects.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2019 at 6:15 pm

      Interesting thoughts, Will.

  9. Birdman

    January 3, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    Don’t really see the value of keeping Jones for one or two more years at this point. Maybe he makes the difference between a 96 loss season and a 99 loss season in 2019. But in the meantime, as noted, he clogs up the RF position which could be used to test and develop younger players. Also, the salary ($10-12 million ?) that Jones would probably command could be better spent elsewhere.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2019 at 6:16 pm

      Jones would probably command half what you’re thinking ($5-6 mil), but I don’t see any desire to bring him back.

  10. staceyka

    January 3, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    It’s hard to quantify what I believe Adam brings to the clubhouse. His example and mentoring of new and young players is invaluable. I would bring him back in a heartbeat. Can’t imagine him playing for anyone else. His leadership both with the team and in the community is not something to be thrown away.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 4, 2019 at 8:10 am

      I agree Stacey, but I think you’re going to have to imagine him elsewhere.

  11. beachrumpirate

    January 4, 2019 at 9:08 am

    Happy 2019, Rich & everyone else here!

    I think the O’s would be wise to bring back AJ, since every young team needs a vet to look up to, and who else bleeds orange & black like Adam Jones!? Plus, with AJ, he’s not afraid to speak up, and out…respectfully, and that is definitely a quality that others need to learn. With a young clubhouse, AJ is who I would rely on, not Trumbo or Chris Davis, no offense to them of course.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 4, 2019 at 3:48 pm

      Beachrumpirate, while I may look agree with you, I don’t think Jones will be back.

  12. SailinO

    January 4, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    It’s my first post so be gentle! I like Adam Jones. He was the primary heavy lifter in bringing the O’s back into competitiveness. An example of good hustle and a good teammate. Had he just been able to develop a bit more plate awareness I feel he could have crossed the line from great player to HOF material. The good teams in baseball have great plate discipline and I think the Elias O’s will or should stress that

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 4, 2019 at 3:50 pm

      Welcome, SailinO, I hope this is your first post of many. Plate discipline is sorely needed. I think the new regime wants to do things their way.

  13. SailinO

    January 4, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    As an organization mantra. That’s why Adam is not a good fit.

  14. Jacobs1928

    January 9, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    If we are to build a team holding on to old (age) losers…Jones-Trumbo-Davis..
    Should be gotten rid of.. buy them out …with offers that will get rid of them and save
    $$$$’s not hold on to Jones.
    My thoughts are if a team has a 3 year contract left with a player who is not producing
    Say they owe him 75million …I would offer him say 20 million to go if not let him sue
    And focus on his contract was based on a level of performance not maintained.
    Go to a jury trial and I believe the team would win.

  15. bwilson177

    January 21, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Adam Jones deserves to finish his career as an Oriole!
    He has been a positive influence on the youth of Baltimore!

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