To the casual baseball fan, 10-and-5 Rights are little more than an annoyance that get in the way of otherwise stimulating trade content in July, but for players, this rarely-achieved benchmark represents a kind of hallowed ground. Ten years of MLB service time and five with the same organization provide players a full no-trade clause, a distinction that Adam Jones celebrated in Baltimore with a party thrown for him by his wife, writes The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli. After interviewing Jones about the process that brought him to Arizona, Ghiroli walks us through Jones’ mindset as he maneuvered a uniquely tumultuous calendar year for the Orioles’ long-time star.
Jones invoked his veto power to block a trade to Philadelphia last season, choosing stability and comfort in playing out his final contact in Baltimore where he played 11 seasons and accrued 31.6 rWAR. When a player like Jones rejects the opportunity to join a contender, many are quick to denounce the move as meddlesome, obstinance, or a signal of waning competitive drive. But players around the league supported Jones with texts of both congratulations and thanks. At season’s end, of course, Mike Elias took over the show in Baltimore and Jones heard nothing but crickets from Baltimore’s front office and ownership.
Jones’ saga is typical of the struggle facing veteran players these days (and Ghiroli’s piece is well worth a read). After being in-part vilified for invoking his well-earned right to stay in Baltimore, he received no interest as a free agent. Yet not even half a season later (now that he no longer controls his destiny), Jones could once again be in high-demand. This after receiving no interest as a free agent until a Steven Souza Jr. injury opened up playing time in right field for the Diamondbacks. His humbling offseason led to a resurgent season thus far for Jones, who brings a .279/.326/.488 line into play against the Nationals today.
At 33-years-old, Jones has the reputation of a player in decline largely because of a too-long stay in centerfield, but offensively he has remained much the same player he was in his prime. For his career, Jones carries a .278/.318/.458 line with 278 career home runs. He is not a superstar, but perhaps the poster boy for baseball’s undervalued middle class. Come the postseason, non-elites like Cody Ross, David Freese and Steve Pearce have often made the difference for championship clubs, and yet front offices around the league overlooked players like Jones and Hunter Pence – veteran clubhouse leaders whose on-field contributions in 2019 have so far outpaced the projections of their decline.