Orioles Extend Adam Jones for 6 Years, $85 M

Orioles fans have been clamoring for it all season, and the team seems to have finally locked up Adam Jones with a contract extension. I was a little worried that they would feel they “had” to keep Jones, and end up giving him a Matt Kemp type deal (8 years, $160 M), but was looking at 6 years, $80-90 M myself. Actual contract; 6 years, $85 M. Nicely done, Orioles.

I said last week that Jones probably isn’t nearly this good, but a 5 year, $75 M extension (as Adam was already going to be under team control for 2013 anyway, likely getting ~$10 M in his final year of arbitration) certainly seems fair. Assume Jones more or less just repeats his 2010-2011 and is 2.5-3 win player through his “peak” years and then starts dropping off with in his age 30 season (2016) – then (with some salary inflation each year) he’d be worth $13+ M a year. That’s the kind of deal I was hoping for – one that would be still be fine if 2012 is a fluke – and that’s what the O’s got. They wisely paid him like the player he “is” (mostly ignoring the 2012 outburst) instead of the one he “could be”. Really, I’m not sure that Jones would have gotten much less even if he had just repeated his 2011 season this year.

On the other hand, if Jones really does establish himself as perpetual a 30+ home run guy with even close to average defense in center (for the time being), this contract could be a substantial bargain. The low on-base percentage and plate discipline issues might still be there, but power-hitting center-fielders don’t exactly grow on trees. There’s going to be the usual risks associated with all long-term deals, but I think the Orioles did a nice job locking in a decent floor with some real upside; let’s say Jones regresses and ends this year at only 5.5 wins, and declines by a half-win starting next year – that’s around $30 in excess value the O’s would be getting.

Keeping Jones in Baltimore is a win-win-win: he’s now set for life, and gets to remain the leader of a franchise that’s (hopefully) on the upswing; the O’s keep one of the best players around for a while without having to guarantee excessive amounts of money in general or any at all to someone in their mid-30s (Jones’ contract will take him through age 32); and the fans will obviously love this. It’s a good day in Birdland.