Adam Jones turned 30 in 2015, and he’s halfway through one of the best deals in Orioles history.
Though the Orioles are often criticized, and rightly so, for not being proactive about contracts, Jones’ six-year extension, signed in May 2012, proves otherwise.
While Jones’ year may have seemed like a downer, in many ways, it really wasn’t.
He missed more games (25) than he had in any year since 2009, and after Sept. 1, he batted just .203 in 17 games, but he still hit 27 homers, drove in 82 runs and played a sterling center field.
Injuries caught up with Jones, who missed only three games in the preceding three seasons. There were injuries to an ankle, wrist, shoulder and finally a back injury that ended his season early.
In the three-plus seasons since Jones signed that contract, which was for six years and $85.5 million, he’s been the team’s rock, on and now more than ever, off the field.
Jones has often been good for outlandish statements, but during the final months of the 2015 season, he became something more, a respected clubhouse spokesman.
When the Orioles play well, Jones would sometimes give short answers to why that happened, but something happened in 2015 to make him even more valuable.
As the team struggled, as they lost, Jones became the team lightning rod. He wanted to be the team spokesman. When others were unavailable, he made himself available and didn’t hold back.
There was a maturity about him that was refreshing.
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Sure, there was still the goofiness, but he’s a husband and father now, and when he said he wanted to speak with team management about his suggestions to improve the team, it wasn’t done with anger.
It was because he cared.
Jones’ deal was a fine one for him, though surely he could have made more on the open market. It was a fine one for the Orioles, too.
Manager Buck Showalter, who Jones adores, said that managing partner Peter Angelos asked him prior to the deal whether Jones could be counted on. Showalter said he most assuredly could.
Jones has been lauded for his community involvement, encouraging minorities to play baseball, his refurbishment of Baltimore Boys and Girls Clubs, and his willingness to be part of his adopted community.
While he’s been active in the community, he’s been productive on the field, hitting 25 or more home runs and driving in at least 80 runs in each of the last five seasons.
Jones has been an All-Star in each of his last four seasons, and could capture his fourth straight Gold Glove, too.
He wants the Orioles to keep Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, and add some outside talent, too.
For now, Jones can rest his aching back. As another sign of maturity, Jones didn’t foolishly try and play through some of his injuries in 2015.
The guess here is that 2016 will be another strong year for Jones, and that the final three years of his contract will be just as productive as his first three—and then maybe there’ll be a few more here tacked on.