With free agency on the horizon and the bulk of fan and media attention on others who could leave Baltimore, center fielder Adam Jones confirmed this afternoon at FanFest that he hasn’t been involved in any contract negotiations with the Orioles.
Jones is set to earn $17 million in the final season of the six-year, $85.5 million extension he signed in May 2012. Rumors surfaced at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., that the Orioles had approached him about a three-year offer, which a source told me was untrue, and he confirmed it today.
Any extension talks?
“No,” he said.
Is he open to staying if approached?
“They haven’t,” he said, “so therefore it’s hard to speak in hypotheticals in this game and I don’t like to speak in hypotheticals, as you know.”
But is he open to it?
“They haven’t come to me and talked to me,” he said, “so go ask Mr. (Dan) Duquette.”
Does he want to stay?
“Go ask Mr. Duquette,” he said. “I knew that was going to be a question. You have to ask their side.”
And so it goes.
“The player is the one who wants to go out there and just play no matter what, and as you’ve seen me, I just want to be in the environment of winning,” he said. “The last five years have been good. Last year tailed off at the end, but the biggest thing for me is being in a winning environment. I know that’s Zach (Britton’s) goal, I know that’s (Brad) Brach’s goal and I know that’s Manny (Machado’s) goal. It’s not just about the money.
“The money is great. It’s phenomenal when you’re able to take care of your family and extended family and so on, but the individual and the competitiveness inside the individual wants to win and if I’m not in a winning environment, you could throw ... Well, you could throw a certain amount of money, but it would take a lot just to tell me that I’m going to lose. That’s not how it works for me.
“You can’t just say, ‘Here’s a lot of money just to lose.’ I’m not going to be selfish and be like, ‘Here, I’ll take all this money, but I know it’s going to debilitate every other area.’ That’s part of it also, understanding all the merits of this business.”
Jones said there’s a certain level of excitement over the prospect of free agency. It will be a first for him as he approaches his 33rd birthday in August.
“I think the coolest part and sometimes the hardest part of free agency that I’ve seen from afar is getting to see all the people that want you and getting to see the people that, they don’t necessarily don’t want you but don’t need you,” he said.
“I’m a center fielder, there’s a lot of teams with center fielders, so I understand that market for certain center fielders and certain teams just won’t be there. But you get to see the general interest from all the people around the league. I know a lot of people when you meet them and talk to them, they say, ‘Oh, I love you, I love your game.’ But when you get to free agency you really get to see how they treat you.
“I was listening to Lorenzo Cain’s press conference and he said Milwaukee was in it from the beginning. Some teams came in and came out, Milwaukee stayed there. Sometimes, persistence is what it’s about.”
The clock is ticking on a team with so many key players entering the final year of their contracts.
“We’ve all grown up, we’re all adults now,” Jones said. “Manny’s obviously headlining, him and (Bryce) Harper are going to headline next offseason, so I just think it’s a business. I thought different situations in previous years would have been handled differently and I didn’t see that, so I just have to have a clear and open mind about the whole situation and don’t just try to make a rash decision. And now it’s not just my decision, it’s my family’s decision. But most importantly it’s about winning and anybody how knows me knows it’s not about money, it’s about winning and if I’m in a winning environment I’ll be happy. And if I’m not I won’t be happy.”
The Orioles are coming off a last-place finish and haven’t addressed their most pressing needs, which brings into question whether they can win, whether they can satisfy a competitor like Jones.
“There’s still a lot of things that have to be done, but starting the first day of spring training everybody’s 0-0 and starting March 29 this year everybody’s 0-0, so everybody has a chance,” he said.
“Obviously, if you put pen to paper and write names down some teams look better than the others, but not always that team wins the World Series, so I always give myself a chance.”
Jones knows that he will have to move off center field one of these days. Just not in 2018. Maybe not in 2019. But it’s coming.
“If there’s somebody suitable and better, yeah,” he said. “Not right now, but if there’s somebody suitable, sure, in a couple of years. But as of now I’m a center fielder.”
Jones has played in 137, 152 and 147 games the past three seasons, his body taking a beating and causing manager Buck Showalter to shut him down for stretches. He didn’t play after Sept. 24 last season due mostly to soreness in his legs.
Good health is a priority in 2018.
“I’m in a free agent year. I’ve got to show all I can do,” he said.
“I’m going to play every day. That’s the goal is to play every day. Obviously, there’s going to be days I’m going to come in and say, ‘I need a blow.’ I’ve never done that. There might be, but I don’t foresee it. I just want to play. You’ve been around me a long time. I just want to play. If the opportunity arises to play, I’m going to play. And hopefully I don’t have to force myself to sit and instead I can just be gradually eased into getting a day off.”
Here’s more from Jones:
On the FanFest mood: “It’s still a great turnout. There’s still a lot of people here who are excited to see their favorite players. I know that Manny and (Jonathan) Schoop aren’t here due to family emergencies or whatever’s going on. I personally don’t know. But it’s something that was important to them, so I respect their decisions. But there’s still a lot of people with a lot of eagerness to see their favorite players, so I don’t think it’s been a Debbie Downer type of scenario. Obviously, they’re main attractions due to the fact they’re really good players, but I don’t think that the people here are necessarily disappointed and they’re trying to make the best of it.”
On the slow offseason: “I think that same question can be asked for every player in every organization right now besides the Yankees. Yeah, besides them. You see there’s still over 100 free agents. I don’t know free agency. You can see it’s happening slowly this offseason and I know Feb. 13 is our first day, so I hope a lot of guys can come to deals with respective teams. I just know these deals aren’t just about the player. Most of us have families and getting them accommodations, that becomes a big headache the later you wait, so a lot of these players are trying to look for places to stay.”
On his goals for the upcoming season: “Well, first is health. I want to continue to play as many games as I can play. I think if I’m able to play, all the rest of the stuff will fall in line.”
On whether he has a wish list for the team: “Going on what everybody tells us we need, you need a corkboard for all the things I guess that we need. I just want guys who come in ready to compete. I understand now as I’ve gotten older that you just can’t throw an X-amount of dollars at certain people. You just can’t do it, certain markets can’t do it, and I get that. Just give me some guys who are going to go out there and compete and be hard out and I’ll be happy.”
On the possible implementation of a 20-second pitch clock: “I get what they’re trying to do, but at the same time you can’t speed up an artist and that’s my answer to that.”
On his reaction to the Yankees’ offseason moves, including Giancarlo Stanton: “It was like, damn, the Evil Empire strikes again. It’s crazy it worked out for them financially. Obviously, how this game has changed, everything’s been quantified. You know who you’re playing against when it comes to Boston and New York. People say, ‘Go sign this guy.’ Well, if we offer a guy $20 million, the Yankees or Red Sox are going to go to him or his wife and say, ‘Here’s $21 (million), do you want to come to New York? I can’t think of any wife who would say ‘no’ to New York over Baltimore and that’s where it goes. You go to the wife. It’s not just the players anymore. We’ll see.”
On whether his wife has told him where she wants to be: “She’s given me a few options.”