You can file the Adam Jones story under “this is what you wanted…well, you got it.”
Now, or soon enough, it’s time for Jones to cash in.
And it will be the Orioles who do the paying.
Jones isn’t a free agent until after the 2013 season, but fans are already clamoring for the club to sign him to an extension now, accomplishing two things in the process: First, the Orioles would lock up the red-hot centerfielder and keep him in orange and black for a lengthy period of time. Second, by signing him now, the Birds also prevent Jones from tasting the succulent flavor of baseball free agency, where it’s likely a team would overpay for his bat and glove.
This is what happens when your players get really good and you have to pay to keep them.
And in the case of Adam Jones, everyone wanted him to get good. Everyone expected him to get good. And now that he’s good, the Orioles have a situation on their hands.
Sign him now, during the 2012 season? Or wait it out and talk money next winter?
No matter what, Jones can’t lose.
But the Orioles sure can, if they don’t do the right thing.
The most money the team has ever forked over in one sitting for a baseball player is the $72 million contract they agreed to with Miguel Tejada before the start of the 2004 season.
Jones might command close to double that amount over a 6 or 7 year period.
I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing I am at this point.
Just because the Orioles need to sign Adam Jones doesn’t necessarily mean they’re willing to do it.
Over the last five years, the O’s have passed on every big dollar free agent who was hanging around in the off-season. There have been loose comments about “spending money once we’re competitive again” but up to now, Baltimore baseball fans have spent most of the winters frustrated at the Orioles’ lack of spending. Four years ago, the team handed $66 million to Nick Markakis and $40 million to Brian Roberts, but this time, with Adam Jones, $66 million or $40 million won’t get the job done. In fact, the Orioles might very well have to shell out the combined total of those two deals just to keep Jones in Baltimore.
Will they give Jones the $100 million contract he’s likely to command?
There’s also the “next guy” looming, catcher Matt Wieters, who doesn’t become free until after the 2015 season. Whatever Jones costs the club, Wieters could garner twice as much. By the time Wieters is free, who knows what the going rate will be for the best catcher in the game?
(Please see next page)