The Baltimore Orioles are in the midst of the biggest rebuild in team history, and Adam Jones needs to be one of the pieces the team moves before the trade deadline.
The Baltimore Orioles are in the midst of the biggest team rebuild in their history, kicked off with the trade of Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers for five prospects and continued by the trade of Zach Britton to the New York Yankees for three prospects.
So who should be next? There’s any number of players the Baltimore Orioles could elect to trade, but one of them needs to be a player who’s been the face of the organization for a long time—Adam Jones.
I know, I know, it sounds like heresy to say that Adam Jones, a man who has been one of the best contributors on the team for a decade, should end up in a different uniform—but it needs to happen.
Why? Well the first and most obvious reason is that this is the last year of his contract. After this season, Adam Jones will become a free agent, and while he might re-sign with the Baltimore Orioles, there’s no guarantee of that.
But there’s another reason the team should move him, and also think really hard about signing him in the offseason, should they choose to—he’s gotten noticeably worse over the years.
It’d be understandable if you looked at his .277 average on the year and thought “well that’s not bad at all,” but that average is probably the best thing about him this year. It’s what a friend of mine over at Pitcher List, Dave Cherman, refers to as a bag of chips—it looks nice on the outside, but when you open it up, it’s mostly air.
Right now, Jones has 10 home runs, on pace to hit fewer than 20 home runs for the first time since 2010. He’s also sporting an awful 3.2% walk rate, the second-worst of his entire career (the worst was in 2014 at 2.8%).
And on top of that, his quality of contact has gotten steadily worse. He’s got a .145 ISO, the worst since his first season with the Baltimore Orioles in 2008, and his batted ball profile supports that drop in power.
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While his line drive rate is actually at a 10-year best 22%, he’s seen a massive increase in his infield fly ball rate, from 9.6% last year to 14.5% this year. SImultaneously, his HR/FB rate has dropped from 15.7% last year to 8.1% this year. What’s that mean? It means he’s just not hitting the ball well, and fewer of his fly balls are going for home runs, instead dying in the infield or outfield for outs.
If you look at his other quality of contact stats, they’ve also gotten worse. His barrel rate has steadily dropped each year, from 8% in 2016 to 6.4% last year to 5.4% this year. Similarly, his high-drive rate has decreased from 12.1% in 2016 to 11.8% last year to 10.7% this year while his popup rate has shot way up from 17.4% last year to 21.2% this year.
Given that Jones has just one year left on his contract before becoming a free agent, the Orioles should look to trade him and gather some prospects for him. They’re not likely to be top-quality prospects given Jones’ age, the fact that he’s a rental, and his performance this year, but something is better than nothing.
The Orioles need to make that move, and if they want to sign him back in the offseason so be it, but they should think long and hard before offering him much money, because it’s very clear that age is quickly catching up to Jones.