Adam Jones has a sublime skill set, perhaps the best on the Orioles roster. He has the respect of Buck Showalter, who often praised his center fielder for his toughness and tenacity. And he has the 2011 Most Valuable Oriole award after batting .280 in 151 games with 26 doubles, two triples, 25 home runs and 83 runs batted in.
He could be a franchise cornerstone for the next Orioles general manager.
Or he could be playing elsewhere next spring if another overhaul is in order.
It’s hard to speculate on how the new guy will do business, considering we have no idea who that new guy will be. But if Andy MacPhail’s replacement wants to go the way of his predecessor and cash in a couple of trade chips for a prize pack of prospects, the 26-year-old California native might be the most valuable.
Jones set career highs in home runs, doubles and runs batted in this season, and he did it with a painful thumb injury that bothered him for weeks. His defensive merits are often debated; I thought he was solid in 2011.
But if we’re looking at another five-year franchise renovation, Jones would bring back a sizable haul. He is entering his prime years and is under contract until 2014. It’s unclear if Jones wants to re-sign here in Baltimore when his contract expires -- it will probably depend on dollar signs and how competitive the team is at that point – but if I’m the new Orioles general manager, I’m gauging Jones’ interest in a long-term deal ASAP.
It would be ironic and depressing and probably fitting if the Orioles dealt Jones, who was acquired when MacPhail traded Erik Bedard to Seattle early in his rebuilding plan, to start another general manager’s rebuilding plan. But the Orioles need a top-of-the-rotation starter, a corner infielder or two and more prospects that inspire hope.
I’m not advocating the Orioles trade away one of their best players, but they should at least consider it.