09 August 2018

Re-Signing Adam Jones

Adam Jones is awesome.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote how Adam Jones really takes up opportunities that should be afforded to the Orioles minor league outfield prospects in their upper minors.  One of the major concerns I have heard about not re-signing Jones is that would leave the club in the hands of young players who have not earned a place in right field.  I think the following from that article answers that in part:
It is true that the beginning of the year may not present itself with a true outfield with MLB ready competency, but, again, a rebuilding club does not need to worry about that.  A rebuilding club does not need to worry about re-signing a Mark Trumbo because you question whether Trey Mancini can cut it.  A rebuilding club does not need to corner the market on well tread, but potentially viable bats when wins and losses quickly become unimportant.
I am also at a loss as to how Jones' presence is compatible with giving the young players the opportunity to earn their roles.  If opportunity is swallowed up by veterans, then you are shooting yourself in the foot if your goal is to find starting options among your youth.

That said, it goes without saying that Adam Jones is "The Franchise".  This Southern Californian has taken to Baltimore and acclimated himself to our dirty little port town.  His outgoing style was refreshingly in contrast to the type of franchise voices the organization has had in the past in the forms of the fairly quiet type like Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Mike Mussina, and Cal Ripken, Jr.  While they all were very meaningful to Baltimore, Jones truly took it up a notch and put himself out there, succeeding.

With that, he has earned a great deal of good will from the fan base, which you can see in the following poll:

To me, that is stunning.  I see zero reason why we would entertain making Jones the first player/manager since Pete Rose.  I think there is a great conflict of interest there and it erases a major go-between for the front office and the clubhouse.  What I take from it though is how warm we are to Jones and just how special he is.

Last December, I considered what exactly it would look like if the Orioles chose to re-sign Jones on an extension.  The BORAS model pegged him as a 2/23 signing, while a comp model pegged it as a 3/32 deal.  I made a major assumption to run the model, which was that Jones would perform in line with his ZiPS projection.  That assumption had an issue.

x2018 27 0.269 0.306 0.458 1.8
2018 12 (19) 0.281 0.31 0.43 0.5 (0.8)

ZiPS missed Jones power and that his defense would remain terrible.  ZiPS thought that Jones would regress to his career norm a bit going from -14 UZR/150 in 2017 to -4 UZR.  That did not happen.  This year, he remains on pace for a -15 UZR/150 season.  That differences of ten runs is reflected in his expect fWAR of 0.8 and makes up for his total loss in value in comparison to ZiPS.

With his performance this season, we have a bit more data and that impacts what BORAS comes up with.  If we consider only his performance (with adjusted for the rest of the season), then BORAS sees Jones as a 1.9 or 2/13 signing.  If we use the logic in the December post to translate Jones' player to right field, then we see a very slight bump with BORAS pegging Jones at 2/18.8.  One last wrinkle, you may have noticed that Jones is hitting the ball pretty well since the All Star breaking.  Well enough that it would add another win to his total.  That would settle him into a 2/23 or 2/24 deal.

Personally, it would be great to see Jones don the orange and black until he wishes to retire, but the way this team is set up I think that might work against the best wishes the franchise.


Pip said...

Since when has, “working against the best wishes of the franchise“ been a barrier to a move?
Seriously though, as long as he’s not overpriced, I think the symbol is important. Dan has made it clear not only that he doesn’t want Jones back, but he made little effort to conceal his annoyance that Jones blocked any trades.
I applaud Adam Jones, and I do hope he comes back but only inexpensively, and with the understanding that he’s not going to be getting 600 at bats

Unknown said...

I really enjoy this blog and the analytics it brings to the table, however could we not acknowledge that Adam Jones bring valuable intangibles to the club? I understand what you're saying about a real building club meeting to minimize the expensive veteran salaries and to maximize playing opportunities for up-and-coming youth. However I think there's something to be said for all these young hopefully soon-to-be Orioles having Adam Jones there as an example and a clubhouse presence. He genuinely cares about the team and the city. How are you supposed to calculate that into WAR. If we're not concerned about wins until 2020 at the earliest, why not keep Jones around as an example to the youth ?

Unknown said...

The value of his leadership should be included in the model.

Jon Shepherd said...

I have written about that in the past. The "Orioles" tend to outperform expectations by about three games. That was originally chalked up to whatever Buck and Dan brought to the table, but it might also have to do with guys like Jones or Davis or someone lost before the club nose dived this past season. Realistically, it probably is some sort of mix. I would also argue that Jones is probably worth more to Baltimore than to the clubhouse. This current era has been characterized by a rather fractitious clubhouse, not antagonistic but not a group that comes together and is a true community. Everyone comes in and does their work and then they leave. With that knowledge, I wonder what Jones is uniquely imparting onto younger players as opposed to another player who may be older and may be more willing for a part time role.

Unknown said...

Now that was an answer I wasn't expecting, that he is valuable to the city but perhaps less so in the clubhouse. That answer and its nuance is a great example of why we will all miss you Mr. Shepherd.