11:05am: The team has announced the deal and its precise terms. Jones does indeed get $8MM over three years, with salaries of $900K, $1.9MM, and $3.95MM. Then, there are two club options ($4.65MM & $5.15MM) with a $1.25MM buyout that applies to either, followed by a mutual option at $6MM.
Those values would change, though, if Jones needs another UCL replacement before the end of the 2018 season, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). If that occurs, the mutual option would turn into a club option and the three club options would be for a total of just $8.5MM.
10:46am: The White Sox have agreed to an extension with righty Nate Jones, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. The deal will promise Jones $8MM over the next three years and includes multiple option years beyond its guaranteed term.
Jones was entering his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility, with MLBTR projecting him to earn $900K. Soon to turn 30, Jones missed almost all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery, but made it back for 19 appearances last year. In his 19 frames of work in 2015, he racked up 27 strikeouts against just a dozen hits and six walks, allowing seven earned runs.
Those numbers weren’t as important as the fact that Jones showed he could still bring the high-90s fastball and big slider that made him an exciting pen arm for Chicago. Jones compiled 149 2/3 innings of 3.31 ERA pitching over 2012-13, with his strikeout and walk numbers improving as he went, and seemed prime to emerge as a dominant late-inning arm before he went under the knife.
It’s easy to see how the sides were able to come together on this agreement. Jones will sacrifice the possibility of a big free agent contract in two years’ time, but will be covered in the event that he deals with future elbow issues and will lock in some real money despite a lowered earning capacity due to his ill-timed, pre-arb TJ procedure.
For the club, promising the final year of arbitration and one season of free agent earnings will deliver some upside. Given the price of pen arms on the open market, it’s a relatively meager guarantee. And the opportunity to continue going year-to-year on salaries of around $5MM could be a real bargain if Jones continues to produce.