Longtime Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was among many 30-somethings who went through a difficult winter in free agency prior to this season. Even though he’s a five-time All-Star and a highly respected veteran leader, Jones had to wait until March to land a contract. He wound up joining the Diamondbacks on a $3MM guarantee, and though the 34-year-old Jones hasn’t logged great (or even average) production since then, the soon-to-be free agent doesn’t seem interested in calling it a career.
As part of a piece that’s worth reading in full, Jones told Zach Buchanan of The Athletic (subscription required) that he’s “perfectly OK” with playing less than he used to, when he was good for 145-plus games on a near-annual basis from 2010-18. Jones’ wins above replacement total in those days tended to range from two to four, but the current version simply isn’t that player anymore.
Jones has essentially been a replacement-level performer this year, according to both FanGraphs (0.2) and Baseball Reference (0.0), having hit .267/.316/.427 with 14 home runs in 454 plate appearances. Jones’ wRC+ (89) is his worst since 2008, his first full season, though he has improved as a defender since moving from center field to his new home in right this year. With minus-1 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-0.2 Ultimate Zone Rating, the four-time Gold Glove winner has been close to a neutral defender this season – not the overwhelmingly minus fielder he was during his closing years in Baltimore.
Although Jones hasn’t been a defensive albatross this year, he still may have trouble securing a guaranteed contract in the offseason. He had substantial difficulty last year on the heels of a better offensive season, after all. Regardless, having earned just under $100MM in the game (per B-Ref), Jones “figures he can now afford to be picky” when it comes to finding his next deal, Buchanan writes. Jones isn’t closing the door on his Arizona tenure, though, telling Buchanan, “Here would be a great place” to continue his career. Jones believes he’s still capable of being “very, very productive in this game for a few more years,” so it doesn’t seem retirement is on his mind at this point.