Will the team be able to sign either player beyond 2018, when they can become free agents? Will the team consider trading either player before they can hit the open market?
But there is another key Oriole whose contract is up after the 2018 season, and he is seldom discussed in this conversation: center fielder Adam Jones.
All Jones has done since coming to Baltimore at 22 in 2008 is play in five All-Star games, win four Gold Gloves, move up the club’s various all-time stats lists and help turn the Orioles from a loser into a winner. And he has been a leader in the clubhouse. And he works often to help the Baltimore community, especially kids. And he has always represented the team very well, sometimes amid very trying circumstances.
So what about Jones? Should he be re-signed beyond 2018? That answer seems to be an easy one - yes he should. Of course, the dollars involved, as always, will be the key. Jones turns 33 on Aug. 1. His best years may be behind him.
But he still had a pretty solid season in 2017. He hit .285/.322/.466 with 28 doubles, a triple, 26 homers, 73 RBIs and an OPS of .787. His .361 average when batting with runners in scoring position led the American League. Jones produced his best batting average since 2013, his highest OBP since 2012 and his best OPS since 2013.
But he has not been an All-Star since 2015, and his Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com, which was 4.9 in 2014, has been 1.1 and 2.5 in the last two years.
Should the Orioles consider moving on from a player who will be 33 when next season ends? Defensive metrics are not kind to Jones. And his days of hitting 30 or more homers and driving in 100 or more runs may be over.
But should there be some loyalty shown to a player here who ranks among the best in team history? Jones ranks No. 8 on the Orioles’ all-time list in games played. He ranks No. 5 in homers, runs and RBIs. He ranks No. 4 with 1,618 hits. Just three Orioles had more in the history in the club and Jones ranks behind Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray on that hits list. He is keeping pretty good company.
As the Orioles front office looks toward the future, it faces many key questions. But somewhere among them all should be how they can retain a player that has been the heart and soul of the team for many years.