With a new general manager, and no hope of contending in the American League East soon, it isn't surprising to see the Orioles' Adam Jones come up in trade rumors. Jones is under contract for just two more seasons, and he's one of the club's only viable MLB-level chips. Whether he is on the market is another matter entirely, but teams like the Braves have tried to pry him from Baltimore already this off-season:
That comes from Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, who doesn't see Jones being dealt without a front-line starter coming back to the Orioles. Our resident Braves' blogger is glad the Orioles didn't think this was enough, as he feels the Braves would be giving up far too much for one player.
How is it that we get to a place where Braves' fans can recoil in horror at the same trade offer that the Orioles can waive off as not enough? It's easy enough when the deal doesn't work out in either team's favor very well.
The Braves are in a different position than the Orioles, as they are trying to win now. Adding Jones makes sense, in that he would improve an outfield that already features Michael Bourn and his glove in center, as well as Jason Heyward in right. Giving up Jurrjens is a good start if you're Atlanta, too, as there are questions about his durability, and Atlanta has no shortage of young pitching prospects ready to step in and take his job if need be.
Giving up Prado is a tougher sell, thanks to no one knowing just what the oft-injured and now 40-year-old Chipper Jones is going to do. Prado, a former infielder, isn't a great fit for left field, and with Jones in town he isn't as key to the roster. It's at least understandable to include him in a trade. Then again, while last year was a down season as he learned a new defensive position, he still hit .294/.341/.438 (110 OPS+) over the last four years -- close to what Jones can provide with the bat.
With reasoning behind moving both Prado and Jurrjens, it all comes down to the pitching prospect. Randall Delgado pitched in Double- and Triple-As as a 21-year-old in 2011, striking out almost a better per inning with his plus curve and mid-90s heat. Arodys Vizcaino was just 20, but finished the season in Triple-A after punching out 10 batters per nine at Double-A Mississippi. Mike Minor threw over 80 innings in the majors last year in addition to his minor league work. Julio Teheran is another 20-year-old, but unlike Vizcaino, he spent nearly the entire successful year at Triple-A.
The Braves could basically make a rotation out of their current crop of quality pitching prospects, and that's without getting into second-year player Brandon Beachy, who led NL starters in strikeout rate in his rookie campaign (min 140 innings pitched). If they make a deal for anyone of substance, it's likely going to involve one of these young hurlers, but they can afford that hit.
Tim Hudson won't be in the rotation forever, though. Tommy Hanson, like Jurrjens, hasn't been the healthiest pitcher around in his Braves career, and will be eligible for arbitration starting in 2013. Trading away too much depth could come back to bite them, especially since you can't bet on every one of these pitchers to hit. The question then becomes whether or not Adam Jones is worth cutting into your depth for.
Jones has two years of team control left, and hasn't quite fit into his potential yet. He has improved slightly in each of the last three years, his OPS+ climbing from 87 to 114, with stops at 105 and 108 in between. His bat fits well in center, but for the Braves, he wouldn't play center -- that is what Bourn is for. Defensively, it's almost impossible to judge what his value is based on advanced metrics. Some of them like Jones quite a bit, others don't like him at all, and others still think he's alright enough, they guess, if you're into that sort of thing.
These defensive differences create a wide range of outcomes on his value. Based on the various wins above replacement metrics, Jones is either a tick above average, or he is a 4.5 win game-changer teams should be coveting. Given the O's refusal of the Braves' offer, we probably know which camp they fall under.
It's likely the Orioles aren't the only team that wants Jones, meaning there will be other trade offers in the future -- possibly even with the Braves, who could offer a better pitching prospect next time around. The Orioles should be holding out for more youth in any Jones' deal, as neither Prado or Jurrjens would be on their next winning team. The Braves should only give up so much for an outfielder who is, in a way, superfluous on their current roster, though, and two years of team control isn't very much in now tougher NL East.
Who is right about this Jones deal that hasn't happened? Everyone. No one likes a trade with two winners, but this is something even less popular: a non-trade with dueling victors.