LAS VEGAS — While Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are grabbing most of the headlines and attention here at the Winter Meetings, another well-known free agent was in the hallway on Tuesday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, standing there almost anonymously.
He’s a five-time All Star with four Gold Gloves and a free agent for the first time in his career, but Adam Jones doesn’t have a job for next season. From the sounds of it, an opportunity doesn’t even appear anywhere close at the moment.
What teams have expressed interest in signing the 33-year-old outfielder?
“None that I know of. I’m just waiting for a call,” Jones said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m just testing the temperatures, meeting with my representation later. If anybody wants to see me in my physical state, then I’m available for that also.”
On the surface, the White Sox could be a possible fit for the veteran center fielder on a short-term contract. Jones is an established leader who can imprint his experience on a young team. It’s a role he took pride in with the Baltimore Orioles. He’s hoping to do it again.
“At this point, I’m older so I’m going to have to be that veteran presence,” Jones said. "I’ve had Manny (Machado) and (Jonathan) Schoop under my wings the last six years, so it’s been great to see that transition and see how players look up to the older players. When I came into the game, I had some very good people to look up to. I just want to be that same influence that the younger generation could look up to.”
Speaking of Machado, inquiring minds want to know where Jones’ former Orioles teammate might sign.
“Whoever’s cutting the check for him,” Jones said. “I’m sure he has a lot of destinations, a lot of options. It’s going to be interesting to see where he signs. Him and Harper.”
Machado has taken a ton of heat for his “Johnny Hustle” comments to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal during the playoffs. Jones believes that’s not the Machado that he knows.
“He plays the game hard and the right way. I think if he could, he would probably take that (Johnny Hustle) comment back,” Jones said. “Overall, the man can play the game. He plays the game hard. He plays it right. His numbers speak for themselves, and I think he can be an immediate impact on any single lineup immediately. As an overall baseball player, he is as good as they come right now.”
As for Jones, he’s coming off a down year offensively. His 15 home runs and 63 RBIs are his lowest since his rookie season in 2008. However, his 35 doubles were his most since 2013 and he was playing on a wretched Orioles team that went 47-115.
Jones says he still has a lot left in the tank.
“On the field, I’m first going to be a person who stays healthy. I’m a very consistent person in the health department over my career. I still believe that I’m very capable of playing,” Jones explained. “I think I had a little bit of a down year last year in terms of power. Overall, we didn’t have a very good year, but I think overall my year was good. I still hit .280.”
Off the field, Jones takes tremendous pride in helping out in the community.
He recently hosted the sixth annual #StayHungry tailgate before a Baltimore Ravens game, raising more than $125,000 for the Living Classroom Foundation and a Baltimore Boys and Girls Club.
“In the community, you can just look up what I’ve done in the city of Baltimore. I’ve been able to inflict some change,” Jones said. “My family has been very instrumental in every endeavor off the field. You get a full package of me. Someone who’s going to be on the field. You see that I play the game hard, and always have and always will. And off the field, you get somebody who really cares about the next generation and the city.”
Jones also likes a good meal, and he’d never run out of options in a city like Chicago.
“There’s good food in Chicago. Good steaks, good fish, good sea bass in a lot of locations,” Jones said smiling.
Could the White Sox be in his future? This being Las Vegas, maybe they take a gamble on him. Looking at his track record and what he can bring to a clubhouse, there are riskier moves than Jones.
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