Adam Jones hopes to keep playing “at least four or five more years,” the veteran outfielder told reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) this weekend at his #StayHungry Purple Tailgate charity event in Baltimore. Jones turned 33 last August and is coming off a season that saw him hit .281/.313/.419 with 15 homers over 613 plate appearances for the Orioles, making for his lowest home run and slugging average totals since 2008, and below-average run production overall (98 wRC+). Between his age and the offensive dropoff, Jones may face a difficult market as he test free agency for the first time in his 13-year career, though he is realistic about his prospects. “It’s like [being] the senior that some people want that not everybody wants, as opposed to the sophomore that everybody wants. I take it back when I was in high school and getting flirted with a little bit,” Jones said. “But at the same time, I’ve got no stress. The Orioles have been good to me financially over my career. I just know that I have a lot to offer someone else and I have a lot of gas in the tank.”
A reunion with the Orioles doesn’t appear to be in the cards for now, as Jones said that he hadn’t heard from the team since the season ended. This isn’t necessarily unusual, as Baltimore only just installed Mike Elias as its new general manager in mid-November, and Elias could have interest in re-signing a team legend to act as an on-field mentor through the Orioles’ rebuilding phase. Still, Jones’ tribute-filled final game of 2018 campaign (and his own comments following the team) certainly seemed to hint that the two sides would be parting ways.
Here’s more on some other free agents around the game….
- The Phillies are the latest team to express “active interest” in southpaw Andrew Miller, MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports (Twitter link). The previously-reported Cardinals and Mets are also among the teams looking at Miller, though the left-hander isn’t yet close to signing with anyone. Injuries limited Miller to just 34 innings in 2018, and likely contributed to his overall middling numbers (at least in comparison to his outstanding performance from 2014-17). Still, with such a track record, it isn’t surprising that Miller is getting lots of attention from a wide range of teams. Philadelphia is a natural suitor, as the Phils have loads of money to spend this winter and could want more of a veteran late-game presence to complement star rookie Seranthony Dominguez.
- Bryce Harper’s name has naturally been attached to the Phillies as they seemingly prepare to embark on a spending spree, to the point that “it’s amazing how many people inside this sport almost assume that the Phillies will be the highest bidder in this auction” for Harper, The Athletic’s Jayson Stark writes (subscription required). Philadelphia has enough financial resources and available future payroll space to pursue anyone in the free agent market…or maybe even in future markets, as Stark speculates on the idea of Mike Trout and Harper both playing in the Phillies outfield in 2021. Trout still has two years left on his Angels contract, of course, and thus it’s far too early to guess at what might happen down the road, especially since the Angels have every intention of keeping their superstar. (“I would bet that Arte would spend $10 billion not to have to read the sentence: ’Arte Moreno was the owner who let Mike Trout walk away,’ ” one executive joked to Stark.) Still, the Phillies’ financial might and their close proximity to Trout’s hometown of Millville, New Jersey make them seem like a logical candidate should Trout ever test the open market.
- Nathan Eovaldi is one of the most sought-after names on the free agent starting pitching market, yet “there is a team or two toying with trying to sign him as a reliever,” the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo writes. Eovaldi’s superb results out of the Red Sox bullpen during their World Series run has surely contributed to this idea, and with two Tommy John surgeries to his name, a case could be made that relief work would be less stressful on Eovaldi’s arm. This being said, it would be incredibly surprising to see Eovaldi sign on as a reliever after so strongly re-establishing his credentials as a starting pitcher last season.