BALTIMORE — For about a decade now, Adam Jones has been the face of the Orioles’ franchise. He’s tough as nails, shows an unrelenting desire to win, and does more than enough off the field in the Baltimore community.
After the 2018 season, Jones’ contract with the Orioles will expire. What Jones does in the offseason remains to be seen, but it appears that Jones won’t re-sign with the Orioles. The Orioles are undergoing a rebuild, which to a competitor like Jones, does not match up with his winning personality. He’s 33 and not getting any younger. The clock is ticking.
The other reason of why many believe Jones won’t sign a new deal with the Orioles stems from the heat Jones had with the front office at the non-waiver trade deadline. According to reports, the Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies had a deal ready to go that would have sent Jones to the City of Brotherly Love, but Jones rejected the trade and elected to ride out the rest of the 2018 season in Baltimore. Because Jones has been with the Orioles for over 10 years, he has 10/5 rights, meaning that he can turn down any trade that the Orioles try to make involving him.
When reporters asked Jones why he turned down the trade, he said the following:
“When players walked out years ago and walked the picket lines and all that stuff, they did all that for reasons right now,” Jones said. “I earned this, and it’s my decision, thank you.”
After Jones rejected the trade, general manager Dan Duquette spoke to reporters regarding Jones’ future with the team. Duquette seemed unsure if Jones would be with the Orioles beyond September, but made a point of saying that the Orioles want to get younger.
“I don’t know the answer to that question, but what I do know is that the club is going to start auditioning some young players for full-time jobs for the future. We’ll have to address those questions in the offseason.”
The process of getting younger began on August 10 when the O’s called up outfielder Cedric Mullins from Triple-A Norfolk. Mullins has since taken over Jones’ post in centerfield while the 33-year-old veteran moved over to right field. In the near future, the Orioles will look to call-up Double-A outfielders Yusnial Diaz and Austin Hays. Unless Jones is willing to stay and split time between being the Orioles’ designated hitter and fourth outfielder, keeping him around may not work out logistically.
All of this baggage likely means that September 2018 will be the last month of Jones’ Orioles career. With that in mind, here are three things I’m hoping to see from Jones by the time the O’s finish their season on September 30 against the Houston Astros.
1. Memorable defensive play in the outfield
There’s too many spectacular Adam Jones plays for Orioles fans to count. At 33, Jones’ speed has decreased recently, and the move to right field was made to prolong his defensive career. That does not mean Jones isn’t capable of a great play, it just means that he has less ground to cover.
With the standing room deck in right field, it’s less likely that Jones will rob a visiting batter of a home run. However, there’s still a fair chance of Jones making a great diving catch, such as the one in the video above.
Before the season ends, Birdland is definitely itching for another great play in the outfield from Jones. An added touch could be Jones and his successor, Mullins, working together to make a crucial out on a nice play. Even though the Orioles abruptly deemed Mullins the new center-fielder, Jones accepted the mentor role head on and has been nothing but helpful to the rookie.
If this moment happens on the road, let’s hope that it occurs in Kansas City (Aug. 31-Sept. 2) or Seattle (Sept. 3-5). As we all know, the Royals swept the 2014 American League Championship Series, and the Mariners drafted Jones in the 2003 MLB June Amateur Draft before trading him to Baltimore in 2007. If making a great play isn’t enough, this would be a bonus.
2. Walk-off home run
This goes without saying, but before the 2018 season ends we need to see Adam Jones hit one more walk-off home run, or at least a walk-off hit. So far this season, Jones has one walk-off home run, which came on Opening Day against the Twins in a 3-2 win. If you can believe it, it marked the third year in a row that the O’s won 3-2 via walk-off on Opening Day at Camden Yards, and the second year in a row that the walk-off came on a home run in the 11th inning. Mark Trumbo did it in 2017 against the Blue Jays, and Matt Wieters singled against the Twins in 2016 to win it for Baltimore.
With the Orioles sitting at 37-90, this appears to be the least unlikely scenario out of the three mentioned in this article, because the Orioles rarely find themselves in a walk-off situation in the ninth inning, let alone being on the upper hand of the scoreboard in the ninth inning.
The other part of this equation is the opponent. The rest of Baltimore’s schedule includes more contenders (Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Astros, Athletics, Mariners) than pretenders (Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Rays), so the chances of winning ballgames looks even less likely.
Perhaps Jones could find his walk-off opportunity in this weekend’s series against the Yankees. The Orioles have played the Yankees well so far this season, with the teams knotted up at six wins each in the 12 games played so far. However, in Baltimore the Yankees hold a 4-2 edge and have outscored the O’s 40-19. This weekend will be the Yankees’ last visit to Camden Yards this season.
With all of the Yankees fans that travel to Camden Yards, seeing Jones hit a walk-off home run this weekend would be a real treat.
3. One last pie
Dating back to the early days of Jones’ tenure in Baltimore, a postgame celebration that the center-fielder made himself involved smashing a teammate in the face with a shaving cream pie, which eventually turned into actual pies sponsored by Baltimore’s own Dangerously-Delicious Pies.
The pie victims were always players that had an instrumental role in a big Orioles win. If an Orioles player pitched a dominant game, broke a record, or walked it off, chances are they received a pie to the face on the MASN telecast immediately following the game’s conclusion, courtesy of Adam Jones.
Before the 2016 season, the Orioles banned the pies, citing a player safety concern, but they returned early in the 2017 season. Since May 9, 2017, the Orioles have played to a 90-177 record, so the opportunities for pies have come few and far between.
Before the 2018 season ends, the Orioles need to give Jones at least one more opportunity to pie a teammate in the face. The Orioles faithful suffered through a lot this season, and are deprived of their once-cherished pie celebrations. It would almost feel wrong if the player who created the pie celebration didn’t get one last shot before he enters an offseason full of uncertainty.
Image Credit: Birds Watcher