Orioles avoid arbitration w. Jones
The Orioles avoided arbitration with center fielder Adam Jones Tuesday night, with the two sides agreeing to a one-year deal and avoiding a potentially contentious hearing which had been scheduled for Friday.
The 26-year-old Jones –named the Most Valuable Oriole in 2011 – will earn a base salary of $6.15 million with $50,000 in performance-based bonuses, a figure which is just shy of the midpoint between the two sides. The Orioles originally offered $5 million, while Jones’ camp at CAA Sports countered with $7.4 million.
“He was our player of the year last year,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said of Jones, who set new career-highs in games played (151), doubles (26), home runs (25), RBI (83), stolen bases (12). “He’s a dependable player and we’re glad to have him.”
How long will the Orioles have Jones, now that his 2012 salary has been agreed on, remains the biggest question for an organization marred in a stretch of 14 consecutive losing seasons. Duquette has said all offseason that the primary focus was on what the organization would pay Jones in 2012 and –although he reiterated Tuesday that there remains a possibility of the two sides reaching a long-term deal in the future — it probably won’t be any time soon.
“I wouldn’t revisit it during the season,” Duquette said of Jones’ contractual status, which currently has him slated to be a free agent after 2013. “We’re glad we have a mutual agreement this year and then we can take a little bit longer and more detailed look at a future contract. But it was important for the team to get a deal done this year.
I think [negotiating during the season] is a distraction to the player and the team. I think everybody’s interest is better served by putting the interest of the team first.”
Jones, who was prepared to fly to Florida Wednesday for the hearing, was grateful that the deal was struck and he will be able to attend his nephew’s sixth birthday party in California instead. Asked again Tuesday night if he would be open to signing long-term with Baltimore, Jones reiterated that those discussions have to start by the Orioles.
“It’s on them, it’s not on me; I just need to go play,” said Jones, who dismissed any rumblings that he wouldn’t be open to staying in Baltimore.
“I guess I need to learn how to handle all that speculation now. But only the people closest to me know how I feel about everything.”
Considered one of the game’s best young outfielders, Jones has also dealt with a fair amount of trade talk this offseason, another foreign situation and one that won’t be going away with his new one-year deal. A fierce competitor and one of the most outspoken and outgoing Orioles, Jones hit .280 with a .319 on-base percentage and a .466 slugging percentage last season and figures to be in the middle of the lineup this year along with catcher Matt Wieters.
“I don’t just go out there to play, and say ‘I play in the Majors’,” Jones said. “I mean, yeah it’s cool, I’m in the Majors. But while I’m in the Majors, I want to win while I’m here. If we want to build a winning team, let’s go. I’m all for it.”
With Jones agreeing to terms, the Orioles have no remaining arbitration-eligible players.