Antlanta Journal-Constitution baseball writer Dave O’Brien says he doesn’t know where Andruw Jones will end up, but it won’t be Atlanta:
I can tell you, everything I’ve heard is that the Braves will not be, that he’s not coming back, regardless of speculation by many who wonder if Jones might go around the lightning-rod agent Scott Boras’ back again and come back for a reduced one-year contract.
No, I’m told. Not gonna happen. Period.
If you’ll remember back, the Braves told Jones at the end of the season that they couldn’t or wouldn’t bring him back, because his agent, Scott Boras, was asking for too much money.
And that made sense at the time, because we were still used to thinking about the Braves as a team with limited resources. But since then the Braves’ new owner, Liberty Media, has announced that the organization is flush with cash and will spend “many millions more” this offseason.
And so we have to conclude that the Braves are choosing not to sign Andruw not because they can’t afford him, but simply because they think there are better ways to spend their many millions.
It’s hard to disagree.
As Jayson Stark will tell you, Andruw is overrated, both at the plate and in the field. He’s had the lowest (or near lowest) Zone Rating in the league for a couple of years now. And last year, well, we don’t have to remind you how he struggled at the plate.
Before this season there was talk that Andruw might land a deal for $20 million per. After a pretty lackluster 2007 season, one would have to think he’ll land something closer to $18 million per.
Who will sign Andruw? The White Sox still need a CF. So do the Rangers. Both teams missed out on Torii Hunter.
But my guess is still the Nationals. Washington President Stan Kasten used to run the Braves. And he is serious about making the team competitive this season, so fans have something to enjoy besides the new ballpark.
If the Nationals signed Andruw, that would leave them with an outfield of Jones, Austin Kearns and Ryan Church. That’s not awful. Plus, rumor is the team is chasing Tampa nutcase Elijah Dukes, which would probably make Church expendable.
Add that outfield to a solid bullpen and an infield that includes Ryan Zimmerman and Dmitri Young, and you’ve got something. You’re still a few starting pitchers and a middle infield short of a playoff team, but you’re on your way.