Adam Jones is the latest pre-free-agency star to get a long-term contract from his team—the Baltimore Orioles are reportedly nearing a deal with Jones for six years, $85 million or so—that would carry the Orioles through Jones's age-32 season, which seems about ideal for a center fielder with tools and a slight baseball-skills deficiency. It's slightly bigger than the five-year, $75 million deal their former roommates the St. Louis Cardinals used to wrap up Yadier Molina in the offseason.â†µ
If Jones's defense is fringe-average like the metrics believe it to be, this is a plausible deal but not a bargain, unless you believe his huge 2012 season to date to constitute a permanently improved level of performance—especially since Jones wasn't yet eligible for free agency. If he's better than that, the Orioles have probably done fine for themselves.
But I guess that, like the Cardinals signing Molina, this is a message deal as much as it is a baseball contract. The Cardinals wanted to show fans that they'd lock up players who weren't named Albert Pujols; the Orioles wanted to show fans that this year's hot start wouldn't be a one-year wonder, and that, having returned to Camden Yards after this lost decade, they should feel welcome to buy Adam Jones sherseys.â†µ