Once again, the team that never talks about it’s players is floating the idea of trading Andruw Jones. Andruw is finishing up another fine season in which he made $13 million. Jones will make $13.5 million in 2007 and then his contract expires. Today in the AJC, David O’Brien discusses the pros and cons of trading Jones—the first article in a four part series on fixing the Braves—and his tone leads me to believe the team is seriously considering moving him.
I’m torn, Andruw Jones makes a lot of money, and only in the past two seasons has he played up to his contract. He’s one of my favorite players, and I enjoy watching him play. I predicted that he would break out even more in 2006, but that didn’t happen; however, he merely played about the same. PrOPS says that Jones was unlucky in both 2005 and 2006. Maybe that indicates something is not right with PrOPS, or it could mean that he’s upped his game more than we’ve seen. Dave Studeman reports today that his early look at John Dewan’s The Fielding Bible stats shows that Andruw continues to be an excellent defender despite reports of his waning ability. (Studes also reports that 2007 THT Annual will include TFB’s plus/minus statistics, which I was fearing we might never see again.)
I estimate that Andruw Jones’s offense is worth between $10-11 million a season. I haven’t developed a system for valuing defense yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised that his defense pushes his value up to and beyond the value of his contract. Andruw is only 29, and I see some indications that he has some better seasons ahead of him. If I were the GM, I would not be eager to trade Andruw; and, I might be tempted to sign him to a three-year $45 million extension. I think there is a good shot that he’s going to be worth more than that, and even if he’s just a high-.800s OPS guy, he’s not embarrassing himself in center. Andruw likes it here (now that I live in Atlanta, I can say “here”) , and I think he might be willing to sign a deal that will take him through Cox’s retirement.
By the way, while we’re talking about Andruw’s contract, let’s acknowledge that the “Andruw went behind Boras’s back last time” story is total bullshit. It’s a great tale, but why would AJ retain an agent, to whom he paid a commission, just to ignore him? AJ likes Atlanta, and it’s not like he was stiffed. Boras got Andruw a good deal last time, whether his agent was in the room when he signed the contract or not. He might have taken a tad less to stay in Atlanta, and the story gives Boras some cover with other clients and GMs.
What about the pitching? Don’t the Braves need pitching more than offense? Well, yes they do. Who are you going to get to replace him? What can you buy more cheaply? Run prevention on the trade market for pitching, or run production and run prevention via Andruw Jones. I’m not saying that there isn’t a good trade out there for Andruw, but I’m not seeing any obvious targets. I would only trade him for a starter, too.
In conclusion, I think Andruw has a very good chance of having an MVP season next year. He’s a popular player, who at his worse is still a good players. I’d hate to watch him have a great season in another uniform. At the least, I think it’s worth holding onto him this offseason. If he fails to produce, then I suspect he’ll be movable at the deadline. Plus, his 10/5 status makes trading him complicated anyway. I say, put off the decision until it has to be made.