Atlanta Braves Free Agent Profile: Adam Jones
Updated: Dec 26, 2018
The Atlanta Braves continue their search for corner outfield help. They do so in a thinning free agent market for veteran outfielders following the signings of Andrew McCutchen and Michael Brantley. There are still a handful of proven players looking for work, however.
Among those with a track record of success is former Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.
Jones, 33, has been a stalwart of the Baltimore outfield for the last decade. A five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glover, Jones owns a career slash line of .278/.318/.456 and has averaged 24 homers and 79 RBI while amassing a 29.4 fWAR since taking over as a regular in 2008.
With the Orioles retooling their entire organization after a disastrous 2018 campaign, it appears Jones will be searching for work elsewhere next year. Though he was routinely a 2-5 fWAR player from 2010-2016, Jones' wins above replacement dropped to a career-low 0.5 in 2018 according to FanGraphs. Once a full-time center fielder, Jones' defense has been in decline since 2016. He played all three outfield spots and finished last season as Baltimore’s primary right fielder.
That just so happens to be a position the Braves are looking to fill.
While he may not offer the same kind of middle of the order power he showed in his prime, Jones collected 35 doubles and hit 15 home runs in 147 games in 2018. Buried in a bad lineup, Jones was respectable against both righties (.277 AVG) and lefties (.291 AVG) but posted a .313 on-base percentage overall. That OBP was just a tick below his career mark (.318), which has never eclipsed .335 in a single season.
On the plus side, Jones cut his strikeout percentage and fanned a career-low 93 times in 613 plate appearances. He is also just one year removed from his seventh consecutive 25-plus home run campaign. It's not far-fetched to think Jones could be an excellent bounceback candidate who could provide more power to an Atlanta lineup that entered the winter looking for some added thump.
It has become increasingly clear that the Braves are looking for a short-term arrangement when it comes to signing free agents over the age of 30. One year with a club option feels like the length of contract Atlanta is looking for this winter. The same holds true for Nick Markakis, who was Jones’ teammate for seven seasons in Baltimore before spending the last four years in Atlanta. Jones and Markakis have been praised for their professionalism and work ethic, things the Braves organization historically puts significant stock in and would figure into the equation in bringing either man onboard for 2019. Judging by the positive impact Atlanta's defensive placement had for Markakis, it could also be a benefit for Jones if he were to slot into right field for the Braves.
Of course, the one-time Orioles teammates would certainly prefer the kind of multi-year security that both McCutchen and Brantley found in their deals with Philadelphia and Houston respectively. However, those offers may not materialize.
In addition to Jones and Markakis, the free agent pool is highlighted by Bryce Harper and A.J. Pollock at this point. It also includes Carlos Gonzalez, Avisail Garcia, Marwin Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson among those who either posted positive wins above replacement, profile what Atlanta is looking for, or both.