LAS VEGAS — Longtime Orioles outfielder Adam Jones spent some time in Las Vegas this week at baseball's winter meetings for his role on the Baseball Assistance Team's advisory board, but it doesn't appear his proximity to the team's new leadership group did anything for his chance of a return to Baltimore in 2019.
Jones, a free agent, won't get any kind of preferential treatment in the Orioles' offseason planning despite what executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said was a clear place in the heart of the city and organization, and vice versa.
"I've heard only wonderful things about him since getting to Baltimore, and even from before I was in Baltimore, it was very obvious that he was an important fixture in the city and on the roster and in the clubhouse — all of those things," Elias said. "I have heard nothing different since joining the organization.
"So, we'll monitor the free-agent market. I think he's no different in that regard, and as I've said, I expect to be on the slower and later side with major free-agent moves, just because of the other work that we're doing, and where we are right now, and what this opportunity presents for players. We'll kind of see where we're at, but it's going to be later in the winter."
Jones, 33, who hit .281/.313/.419 with 15 home runs this year for the Orioles and ceded his longtime center-field role to rookie Cedric Mullins in August, is a free agent for the first time in his career and thus will likely be wearing a new uniform come 2019. The New York Post reported that he met with the New York Mets this week.
Even in what's been a depressed free-agent market over the past two years, including this one, fellow veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen signed a three-year, $50 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies this week that shows there's money out there for veterans.
McCutchen, a 32-year-old former National League MVP, had a better 2018 season than Jones and is one year younger, but it's notable that he went to Philadelphia — a team that tried to pry Jones away from the Orioles at the trade deadline only to be rebuffed when Jones exercised his vested right to refuse a trade.
Elias said Wednesday that age wouldn't necessarily be a consideration in what the Orioles do in free agency, once they get to that point. His previous comments at the meetings centered around possibly looking at shortstop and catcher depth in free agency, but the Rule 5 draft additions of middle infielders Richie Martin and Drew Jackson could mitigate the former.
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"We'll be — I hate to say the word opportunistic, but that's what we'll be," Elias said. "If we feel there's a move to be made this winter that will either improve the team or stabilize the team, or present an avenue for, frankly, converting a player into trade assets later on, that's just part of the business. So, we have to think about that stuff."