Jones will sign an extension of five or six years in length worth $80 million to $90 million.
It will surpass Nick Markakis’ record extension in 2009 of six years and $66.1 million. And it will be more annually than the ill-fated Albert Belle contract of five years, $65 million before the 1999 season.
It won’t be in the stratosphere of Carl Crawford’s seven-year, $142 million free-agent contract with the Boston Red Sox or the eight-year, $160 million extension that Matt Kemp received from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jones is having a tremendous start to the season and is entering his prime, but he is not where Kemp, perhaps the best all-around player in baseball, is accomplishment-wise so far in this game. Plus, Kemp was just one year away from free agency when he signed the deal last offseason. Jones is one and three-quarters seasons away.
So forget about a Kemp bonanza.
Besides, Jones likely isn’t looking for seven or eight years right now. That wouldn’t make sense. Although the Orioles are looking good right now, signing an eight-year deal seems foolish when the trajectory of the organization is still uncertain.
At 26, Jones can sign a five- or six-year extension – which would wipe out next year’s arbitration year – and still be heading into free agency at 32 or 33 (he turns 27 in August).
Remember, in December 2010, outfielder Jayson Werth signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Washington Nationals a few months before his 32nd birthday.
So if Jones continues his production through the length of this extension, he’ll have one more big contract waiting for him. Yet he’ll already be a very wealthy man.
So don’t expect Matt Kemp contract numbers; expect an Orioles record-breaker that doesn’t hamstring the club for a full decade and allows Jones to get out while he’s still in his early 30s, if that’s his desire.