Andruw Jones and the White Sox have agreed to a one-year deal worth $500,000 in guarantees and another $1 million in potential incentives, with general manager Ken Williams making it very clear that the five-time All-Star is being brought in as a bench player:
This is an opportunity to add a power bat to the roster while improving our outfield depth. With the addition of Andruw, Mark Kotsay and Omar Vizquel, we feel our bench is taking shape to be a strong asset heading into the 2010 season.
Jones, Vizquel, and Kotsay have combined for 48 seasons, 6,177 games, and 25,290 plate appearances in the big leagues, so if nothing else the White Sox will have the most experienced bench in baseball next year.
Released by the Dodgers last winter despite still being owed $15 million, Jones latched on with the Rangers, made the team out of spring training, and turned heads by hitting .344/.523/.781 in April as a part-time player.
Unfortunately that was basically the extent of his comeback, as Jones batted just .197/.293/.418 in 287 plate appearances from May 1 through the end of the season. He still has plenty of power, but the 10-time Gold Glover can no longer play center field regularly and has hit just .207/.304/.393 over the past three seasons.
Taking a flier on Jones isn’t a bad idea for just $500,000 and he has some uses as a bench player, but don’t expect a return to form following one of the most sudden collapses in baseball history. He looked like a potential Hall of Famer through age 29 and is now just trying to hang onto a roster spot at age 32.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.