Even though we're only in December, Adam Jones has to be one of the offseason's biggest losers so far. Jones narrowly missed out on being arbitration eligible, losing the final "super two" spot to Mike Fontenot of the Cubs. As a result, the Orioles do not have to give Jones a large raise and can instead simply renew his contract.
At the same time, this sets up the ideal scenario for Jones and the Orioles to come to terms on a contract extension. The Orioles can lock up Jones before his price tag becomes too large and Jones can get a raise in 2010 and a nice amount of guaranteed money for the future.
Let's take a look at the goals for each side:
1. Lock up Adam Jones long term
2. Buyout all of his arbitration years
3. Buyout 1-2 of his free agent years
The Adam Jones Camp
1. Big money contract
2. Pay increase in 2010
3. Guaranteed money
So how about this deal for Jones and the Orioles?
(5 years/$30 million) with $14 million dollar team option for 2015
Here is the contractual breakdown:
2010: $1 million
2011: $3 million
2012: $5.5 million
2013: $9.5 million
2014: $11 million
2015: $14 million (team option)
Why it works for the Orioles:
1. Retain Jones at a very team friendly price
2. Relatively small commitment to core player
3. If they wait another year, Jones's price tag could be astronomical
Why it works for Jones:
1. Does not have to wait to get paid
This deal is very similar to the one signed by Curtis Granderson a few years back. Granderson and Jones were in very similar situations because neither guy was eligible for arbitration, but wowed their teams respective front offices with their talents. Even though he has less than three years of service time, Jones has established himself as the Orioles centerfielder of the future because of his incredible combination of speed, power, and tremendous defensive ability/instincts.
By locking up Jones now, the Orioles would be reaffirming their commitment to building a winning ball club and investing in top talent.
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