Adam Jones’ Hypothetical Trade Value
Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen are essentially the same player at this stage of their careers.
Each contributed 2.5 bWAR last season as their team’s primary center fielder, Jones with the Orioles and McCutchen with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jones is 32, one year older than McCutchen, while both are right-handed hitters and five-time All-Stars eligible for free agency at the end of the upcoming season.
Many scouts believe it is time for both players to move to a corner outfield spots after Jones had minus-6 defensive runs saved in 2017 while McCutchen had a combined minus-43 DRS over the past two seasons. McCutchen will play right field for the San Francisco Giants this year after being acquired Monday in a trade.
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There has been no indication the Orioles are looking to trade Jones. They plan to make a run at the postseason despite third baseman Manny Machado and reliever Zach Britton and Brad Brach also entering the season on expiring contracts.
Jones’ existing contract includes a no-trade clause, and he has also become a 10-and-5 player making a potential trade that much more unlikely.
Owner Peter Angelos has been hesitant to allow players to be dealt at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline even if the Orioles are out of contention. Thus, Jones is likely to play the entire 2018 season in Baltimore, even if the Orioles finish last in the American League East for a second straight year following three playoff trips in a five-year span from 2012-16.
If the Orioles were to trade Jones (again, with Jones’ consent being needed), they would likely not get as much in return as one might suspect for a player of his pedigree.
The Pirates did not extract a very big haul from the Giants for McCutchen. They received reliever Kyle Crick, minor league outfielder Bryan Reynolds and $500,000 in international bonus slot money but also agree to pay $2.5 million of McCutchen’s $14.75-million salary.
Crick, 25, made his major league debut last season and had a 3.06 ERA/3.90 FIP in 30 games with 7.8 SO/9 and 4.7 BB/9. It was a decent beginning to his career but far from what the Giants hoped Crick would become when Baseball America ranked him as the 33rd-best prospect in the game prior to the 2014 season.
Crick spent the next three years at Class AA Richmond, including a horrible 2016 when he was 4-11 with 5.04 ERA in 23 starts. He got his career back on track last season when he was converted into a reliever at Class AAA Sacramento.
Reynolds was the Giants’ second-round draft pick in 2016 from Vanderbilt and Baseball America ranks him as the organization’s No. 4 prospect. Yet the magazine also notes that the 22-year-old switch-hitter will need to add more power to become a regular in the big leagues.
“Reality is you’re just not going to get much for a player with only one year left on his contract,” said an executive from a major league team. “And keep in mind Andrew McCutchen was the National League MVP (in 2013). Adam Jones doesn’t have that on his resume.”
Jones is seemingly a fit for the Giants, even after their acquisition of McCutchen, along with the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets. However, Jones will also have a $17.3-million salary this year, more than $2.5 million more than McCutchen and the money further erodes his trade value.
“Neither one is the player they used to be, but I’d take McCutchen over Jones because his skills are holding up a little bit better,” a talent evaluator from another MLB team said. “If the Pirates had to pay down part of McCutchen’s salary without getting an impact player back, the Orioles would have to do the same with Jones — even more money, I’m sure — to have any chance of trading him. In the end, they’re better off just keeping him and taking one last shot at winning with their core group of players.”
John Perrotto has been a professional sports writer since 1982 and has covered a multitude of sports, including MLB, NFL and college football and basketball. He has been a member of the Baseball Writers' Association since 1988, a Hall of Fame voter since 1997 and has covered 21 World Series and two Super Bowls. He is a graduate of Geneva College, the birthplace of college basketball, and lives in Beaver Falls, Pa., the hometown of Joe Willie Namath.
He also writes The Perrotto Report (theperrottoreport.com), newsletters that concentrate on Major League Baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates.