Last we heard from Orioles center fielder Adam Jones in these parts, he was casting his future in Baltimore into doubt at FanFest as he said the team hasn’t been receptive to extending his contract beyond the pending expiration of his contract.
On Thursday, he took to Twitter to express how thankful he was to have arrived with the Orioles at all. Ten years ago Thursday, Jones was one of five players (along with Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Tony Butler and Cam Mickolio) to come to Baltimore in a deal that sent then-ace Erik Bedard to the Seattle Mariners. It’s worked out tremendously for the Orioles based just on the performance of him and Tillman, but Jones made clear that it was also pretty good for him personally, as well.
What the Orioles benefited most from, it has turned out, is Jones’ consistency. He made his first All-Star team in 2009, his second full season with the Orioles, and after replicating much of the same success in 2010, he started an unprecedented run of consistency that has been a staple of the Orioles’ recent run of success.
Since 2011, he’s hit at least 25 home runs every season and hasn’t had an OPS+ of less than 98, which came in 2016. He’s averaged 29 home runs and 87 RBIs with a .279/.318/.473 batting line, all while winning Gold Glove awards from 2012 to 2014.
Tillman’s success was just as important to the Orioles over that span, and helped make it one of the greatest trades in team history, at least by value gained.
A few years ago when Bedard retired, Cliff Corcoran wrote at Sports Illustrated about how Bedard’s legacy would be the deal that proved to transform the Orioles.
At that point in 2015, the Orioles had come out 32.1 wins above replacement (WAR), according to Baseball-Reference.com, which made it the third-best trade by that measure in Orioles history.
According to Corcoran, first was the deal that sent pitcher Mike Boddicker to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Curt Schilling and outfielder Brady Anderson, though most of Schilling’s Hall of Fame-worthy career didn’t take place in an Orioles uniform. Second was the 1974 deal that brought pitcher Mike Torrez and All-Star outfielder Ken Singleton, who like Jones played for the Orioles for a decade.
A good few years for Jones (and a bounce-back year for Tillman, wherever it is) could bring his deal past that one for second, as at present, the Bedard trade has netted 40.2 WAR, with the Singleton deal at 50.3.
(He noted that the deal for outfielder and past and future Most Valuable Player Frank Robinson yielded just 21.9 WAR, though it was impactful beyond just that one factor.)
By Corcoran’s math, that makes the deal that brought Jones to Baltimore by Andy MacPhail one of the best of this century. With Jones entering the final year of his contract and Tillman remaining on the free-agent market, it’s on MacPhail’s predecessor, Dan Duquette, to see what extra value they can extract from it.