It’s starting to sound as if the Orioles and Adam Jones are playing a game of chicken as the nonwaiver trade deadline approaches.
Jones would only deliver a testy “we shall see” when he was asked Sunday about the likelihood that he had played his last game as an Oriole at Camden Yards.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette also tensed up when he was asked about the likelihood that Jones would still be on the club when the deadline for making trades without waivers passes at 4 p.m Tuesday.
“As far as the club is concerned, we would expect Adam will be with us after the trade deadline,” Duquette said during a brief news conference to announce that reliever Brad Brach had been traded to the Atlanta Braves.
He also said that Jones has indicated that he wants to stay, but Duquette did not say that in a tone that indicated it was music to the ears of ownership or the front office.
“I think the club is in the rebuild mode,’’ Duquette said, “and we’re going to be taking a look at some younger ballplayers going forward. We’ve made that clear. That’s the intent of the club. That’s the direction we’re going to go in.”
In fact, it seemed pretty obvious that the club is ready to trade Jones, and Jones — who has the right to veto any deal — is making it difficult to do that. It also seems pretty clear that Duquette does not think that Jones fits into the club’s rebuilding plans beyond this season.
“The club has established a clear direction,’’ Duquette said. “We have traded veteran players for younger players. We’re going to, with the support of ownership, rebuild the roster.”
He was asked pointedly if it was possible Jones would be with the club next season.
“His contract is up,” Duquette said. “I don’t know whether Adam will be here or not, but the club is going in the direction of younger ballplayers. I can tell you that.”
This figures to create some serious intrigue if Jones is still on that roster when the Orioles take the field against the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
Will the Orioles bring up center field prospect Cedric Mullins? Will Jones agree to play a corner outfield position to make room for the presumed center fielder of the future?
Will the team deliver some kind of ultimatum to encourage Jones to approve a deal?
It might be easier to divine what’s going to happen if the club’s “clear direction” included a clear idea of who will be running it this winter. Ownership appears to have given the keys to the rebuilding project to Duquette, but his contract also is up at the end of the season.