The Seattle Mariners have areas they can improve. While most of those lay on the pitching side of things, there could be an opportunity to improve the offense. But is former Mariner Adam Jones really the answer?
There is very little doubt that the infamous Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, and George Sherrill for Erik Bedard trade is among the worst in franchise history. But perhaps the Mariners have an opportunity to right this wrong?
The Baltimore Orioles are one of the worst teams in baseball, and the soon to be 33-year-old outfielder is in the final year of his contract. If the Orioles are about to enter a rebuild (most believe they are), Jones has little value to Baltimore for the remainder of 2018 and beyond.
But let’s return to the question at hand: if Jones is made available, should Seattle pursue? There are numerous factors to dissect, so let’s begin with the most important: on-field performance.
If there is one word to describe Jones, it is durability. Jones has played in 147 games or more since 2010. A mainstay in the Baltimore lineup, Jones is having a nice 2018, at least on the surface. After all, a .293 average and .453 slugging percentage are rock solid. Jones also has 10 home runs and 18 doubles.
However, a closer look at Adam Jones reveals some concerning trends. For starters, he does not walk. Like, ever. A career 4.4 BB% is bad. Even worse is his 2.9 BB% in 2018. Jones is hitting .293 but is posting an OBP of just .316.
While Jones, has hit 25 or more HR in every year since 2011, Jones has only ever posted a .500 or better slugging percentage once in his career. Then, we take a look at him defensively.
Jones, who has 4 Gold Gloves on his resume, has been steadily declining in centerfield for the past 3 seasons. In fact, a look at the metrics shows Jones as an overrated defender for most of his career.
At this stage in his career, Jones should be viewed strictly as a corner outfielder. Seattle may be better off acquiring a real CF like Leonys Martin. Fortunately, Jones is still a solid base-runner but is no longer a threat to steal. Overall, Jones has the profile of a solid complimentary piece, but not a franchise cornerstone.
Besides the limitations on the field, there are other factors to consider. The first is that Adam Jones can veto any trade, as he own’s the coveted 10-5 rights. It is entirely possible that Jones has no interest in playing in Seattle. If he doesn’t, Baltimore can’t force him.
Jones is a west coast guy, so perhaps Seattle makes some sense. However, if either the Angels, Dodgers, or Giants come calling, he may prefer to head back to California.
Finally, there is a question as to whether or not Jones makes the Mariners better? Having established that Jones is no longer a viable option in CF, it makes things difficult. Mitch Haniger has a stranglehold in right. In addition, the combo of Ben Gamel and Denard Span in LF has been perfectly acceptable.
In fact, both Gamel and Span have higher wRC+ than Jones. Even if you find a home for him in a corner, another question would remain: would Jones okay a trade to a team that wouldn’t let him play CF?
It is certainly possible, as Jones has an excellent reputation as a team first, great clubhouse guy. But is it a guarantee? No.
But for the sake of our goal today, let’s assume everything goes the way it needs to for Jones to be a Mariner. He agrees to come here, agrees to play LF, and agrees to a limited role. Perhaps, the Mariners can use Ben Gamel and Ryon Healy in a platoon of sorts at 1B? Opening up a platoon in LF for Span and Jones.
Let’s stipulate that all of that happens. The big question is: what does it cost? Perhaps Seattle can offer Span and a prospect and roll with a Gamel and Jones platoon? It would negate some of the salary troubles the trade could create. And working Gamel into more time at 1B could give Jones 4-5 starts a week.
However, let’s assume that Span, Gamel, and Jones would all remain on the roster. In that scenario, here is our offer:
The Seattle Mariners trade Luis Liberato to Baltimore for Adam Jones.
Unlike many trades, it is not the cost to acquire that would stop Adam Jones from returning to Seattle. Instead, it is a legitimate question of whether or not he makes the team better.
Yes, there would be a certain poetic justice to bring Jones back to Seattle. After all, it would be cool for the Mariners to end their playoff drought while re-acquiring a player given away by Bill Bavasi that undoubtedly extended the Mariners 16 year playoff drought.
However, at the end of the day, there just appears to be too many hurdles for the Mariners to avoid to make some fans dreams come true. Would it be near? Yes. Is it practical? No. The Mariners can improve their offense, and should be open to the opportunity. But is Jones that guy? No. No, he’s not.