The extension that Brian wrote about this morning between the Baltmore Orioles and Adam Jones is apparently just about done. CBS's Jon Heyman is reporting that the deal will be for six years and a whopping $85.5 million.
My initial thought about the deal is "wow, that's a lot of money". An average of $14.25 million a year for Adam Jones? That's crazy. While Jones has had a great six weeks to kick off his season, tallying 2.8 fWAR, a .958 OPS, and 14 homers, his career has been largely a disappointment. That 2.8 fWAR is already the second highest total of his career, which was 2.9 last season. He has a career walk rate under 5%, and has largely middling defensive numbers in center field.
Compare this extension to that signed by Andrew McCutchen in March, who signed for six years and $51.5 million along with an option year. McCutchen's average salary is just a hair over $8.5 million, and he is by far the superior player, at a little over a year younger than Jones. In 200 games fewer than Jones, McCutchen has been worth 14.9 fWAR, or 2.9 more than Jones's career mark of 12.0 fWAR. McCutchen's career OPS is also 61 points higher than Jones's (.832 to .771).
The Jones extension also has far-reaching implications for a pair of other players: free agents to be Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino. While both players are older than Jones (Bourn is currently 29, Victorino is 31, and both men have a birthday in the offseason), they're the premier names among center fielders on the market this offseason, and agents Scott Boras (Bourn) and the Levinson brothers (Victorino) will likely use the Jones and McCutchen deals to set the market for their clients.
As for the implications for the Orioles, it's good for them to sign a player who doesn't appear to be fatally flawed (like say, Nick Markakis or Brian Roberts) long-term. Unfortunately for Baltimore, Roberts is still locked up at eight figures a year through 2013, and Markakis is signed (also for eight figures) until 2014. Neither of those extensions has really panned out for the team, with Roberts playing in just 98 games in two plus years since signing the extension, and Markakis failing to hit 20 homers or have a three win season since signing his.
If the Jones extension works out well for the Orioles, they'll be in solid shape. However, if they're paying eight figures to a guy who can't crack three wins like Markakis...well, it really won't look very good for them at all.
Photo courtesy of Daylife.com
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