Longtime major league outfielder Adam Jones’ time in the bigs may have just drawn to a close. Jones announced on Twitter that he’s signing with Japan’s Orix Buffaloes. He inked a two-year, $8MM contract with a club option for 2022, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. The deal could max out at $15.5MM if Jones’ option is exercised and the CAA Sports client earns the $2MM in incentives that are part of the pact.
The fact that Jones is heading to Japan now means he’ll avoid a protracted stay on the open market. As a free agent last offseason, the 34-year-old Jones was a victim of a league that has become more and more averse to signing aging players to guaranteed contracts. Jones went without a deal for several months, finally inking a $3MM pact with the Diamondbacks.
Even though Jones jumped out to a great start in Arizona, his numbers and his playing time declined as the year progressed. He wound up turning in a .260/.313/.414 line (good for a below-average wRC+ of 87) with 16 home runs in 528 plate appearances. In the field, the former defensive standout earned negative marks for the fourth straight year (minus-4 DRS, minus-2.2 UZR).
Despite his subpar numbers, Jones’ lauded leadership skills were surely valued in Arizona. Major league teams could have considered signing him to act as a mentor to their younger players in 2020. However, he would have had to settle for either a low-paying big league contract or a minors agreement. As a result, Jones made the decision to head to Nippon Professional Baseball for a much larger payday.
If this is the last we’ve seen of Jones in the majors, he’ll be remembered as a standout with the Orioles for a significant portion of his career. Jones was the 37th overall pick of the Mariners in 2003, but they ultimately traded him to the Orioles in 2008 in a swap that blew up in Seattle’s face and couldn’t have worked out much better for Baltimore. Jones debuted as an Oriole in 2008, the beginning of an eminently successful 11-season run in which the former center fielder batted .279/.319/.459 with 263 home runs, 90 steals and 29.5 fWAR, earned five All-Star nods and won four Gold Gloves.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.