You hear about this Bryce Harper? Word is he doesn’t want to play in Philadelphia. Depending on which Hall of Fame voter you ask, it could be because he’d rather have landed with the Cubs or Dodgers, or because he doesn’t like Gabe Kapler’s quirkiness or penchant for analytics. He’s 26 years old! He’s just a kid! Of course he hates math! Did the Phillies even consider this?!
Anyway, we know for certain that Harper is utterly repulsed by Philadelphia because of all of the times he has used his platform to spread his disgust for the city far and wide.
Since some people don’t understand that all this “Harper doesn’t want to play in Philly” talk is coming from Boras, here’s two separate articles with Harper actually saying he likes Philly, playing in CBP, and the fans. #Phillies #harperlent @JackFritzWIP @JoeGiglioSports pic.twitter.com/kudJwkIS0n— Tony DelGrosso (@TonyD_4) February 21, 2019
You know who really didn’t want to play in Philadelphia? Former Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, who, when traded to Philadelphia this past August, said no; I don’t want to be traded to that place, and I will not be going there, kind sirs! And when asked just what in the heck he thought he was doing, refusing to be traded to the great city of Philadelphia, the city without which our country would not have happened and where innovative minds are still working to cleanse human bodies of toxins through the healing power of fire, Jones said that no, he wasn’t going to explain his reasons, and that he didn’t have to, and that was pretty much the end of it. And then, the Phillies did not win the World Series.
And good for Jones! Not wanting to play in Philadelphia—or at least, the perception of not wanting to play here—is so en vogue right now. Jones had literally every right to deny the trade the Phillies and Orioles had put together, and he also had—again, literally—every right to never tell us why. We can certainly guess, though: Mine would be that, as a 33-year-old professional athlete and human being watching the franchise with which he’d signed an at the time club record $85.5 million contract in 2013 disassemble its key parts and wind down an era of brief success, he just didn’t feel like doing whatever rich people do when they have to move. Moving is one of the worst experiences of adult life, and it’s probably one of the few things so miserable that its anguish can actually penetrate from the peasant level where we live up to mid-range millionaire.
Maybe, we thought, the Phillies would see Jones—who finished his 11th and final season in Baltimore hitting .281 with 15 HR and 0.2 WAR—again in free agency, where he would once more hold the power to say “no” to them. Then, we’d know for sure whether he’d turned them down in July because he hates Philadelphia, or because he just wanted to finish the season in Baltimore with his remaining teammates.
But he didn’t have to say anything, again, because the Phillies signed Andrew McCutchen instead. The $50 million, three-year deal they gave Cutch initially made it look like Jones might be able—as another veteran outfield option on the market—to get paid.
But, nothing. Jones has been one of the least discussed free agents this offseason, albeit in an offseason in which we’ve only talked about two of the free agents. At this point, with enough outfielders off the board, Jones is the second best offensive option after Bryce Harper, who is too busy at the moment ordering little plastic Liberty Bell replicas online and backing over them with his car to bother signing any contracts.
We’ll catch wind of a deal some day soon when a Rosenthal or a Passan casually tweets out Jones’ one-year deal with the Giants or the Blue Jays. But in the interim, he’s just been a name uttered by a confused Mark Trumbo to the Baltimore Sun:
“You’d think somebody with that kind of bulk and track record, especially with how much he brings in addition to the baseball side of it — it is kind of hard to wrap your head around this few opportunities.”
Based on his former teammates’ words, Jones, as anyone who has followed his work thus far, has been a consistent, relatable, decent, intelligent person to have in the clubhouse. Sounds pretty good. There’s a lot of teams out there who aren’t trying to get better on which a veteran Gold Glover and all-star even on the declining end of his career should have a job. And there’s one or two teams trying to win some games this season on which Jones could also play a role. Basically, Adam Jones should have a job in baseball, and he’s not the only one who doesn’t have one. Harper’s never-ending fairy tale of an offseason is likely prolonging Jones’ as well.
The Phillies could have used Jones. He adds to their lineup’s overwhelming right-handedness, but his career splits against the Nationals are pretty good. There’s some defense in there, and he can still give you a couple of these.
We can see pretty clearly that something shifty is going on when Francisco Liriano is getting seven minor league offers on the same day after weeks of radio silence, all for about the same amount of money. Owners apparently have an algorithm for signing free agents, but whatever the equation is, it involves a long stretch of head-scratching silence, followed by a sudden burst of paper work. Anyone can see that this is at least notable and at worst, well, you know. Jones will get his job, and he might eventually stop thinking about how long it took him to be offered it. For now.
As the Phillies and Harper continue to play a game of chicken worth hundreds of millions of dollars, this process will yawn on. Jones, being Jones, is likely not viewing himself as a victim of it, and is perhaps instead mulling over baseball’s devolving contractual processes as he makes solid beer selections while identifying characters from Thomas the Tank Engine. And maybe he’s also thinking about a different game of chicken he used to play in Saratosa.
In Adam Jones' absence, Trey Mancini took it upon himself to continue the Orioles tradition of ordering in platters of Popeyes chicken for the clubhouse after the first spring training game. It was appreciated by all.— Jon Meoli (@JonMeoli) February 24, 2019