The sun seems to be setting on Adam Jones’ days as an everyday impact player. Would a change of scenery and a team not named the Baltimore Orioles be what he needs to stay in the sunlight?
2018 Stats: .281/.313/.419 with a TAv of .253, a BRR of 1.0, an FRAA of 0.0, and a WARP of 1.3.
How He Fits: It all depends on Bryce Harper. If the Chicago Cubs don’t get the former Washington Nationals’ superstar then there may be a home for Jones in a Wrigley Field outfield spot. He’d be a depth pickup, a right-handed bat to work in on days when Jason Heyward or Kyle Schwarber aren’t in the line-up. In that role, I think Jones could provide value to the Cubs.
That value would mainly come from his veteran presence and his ability to hit the ball for power. His days as a premier slugger are over, but his ISO of .138 was right around league average in 2018. Jones has shown he can handle a leadership position, and I don’t doubt his ability to come in and quickly take on a leadership role with this Cubs club. The power is still present, and it’s just a matter of seeing if he’d be able to keep his power in a selective role off the bench. If he could, then he’d be a fine addition to the North Side.
Jones has shown obvious signs of decline in the past couple of years. The decline really set in during his 2018 campaign. But, as we’ve seen with many a player, some of his decline may be due to playing for the Orioles. A change in positions may also help to rejuvenate the Samuel F. B. Morse High School standout. Jones has primarily played centerfield with the Orioles. He doesn’t really have the range for that position anymore, but maybe more days spent in rightfield or leftfield would balance out his loss of range and allow Jones to remain an average defensive outfielder.
Why It Won’t Work: I still believe the Cubs will sign Harper, and if they do then there is no place on the 2019 team for a soon to be 34-year-old declining fourth or fifth outfielder. Signing Jones would be a depth move, but it would add depth to a position that doesn’t really need to add depth through free agency. Taking that all into account it’s hard to see that Jones would add any truly positive value to the Cubs roster next year.
A lot of Jones value would be contingent on him adapting to a new role. The reality is, not every player is able to adjust to being a bench player. Tommy La Stella is a special pinch hitter because he manages to excel in a role where he doesn’t get everyday at-bats or see regular playing time. Jones has never shown he can fill out the same role as La Stella, and I’m not sure if his makeup presents a player who would be able to do as such.
Alternatives: Even if the Cubs don’t sign Harper, there are better free agent options available. I know most Cubs fans are against them signing Andrew McCutchen, but his numbers have actually been rock solid since a down 2016. He’s a better player than Jones at this point in his career, and more versatile to boot. Of players already on the squad, I’d much rather see Albert Almora continue to mash lefties and provide all-world defense, or Ian Happ continue to try and grow as a player.
Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons