Call it serendipity; the Rangers signed Jones to a one-year minor-league deal on Sunday, worth $500, 000 if he makes the big league roster.
The former Braves all-star spent an insufferable season in Los Angeles last season, where he hit .178 in 209 at bats. He had knee-surgery in May and left insiders wondering if he was done for good.
That said, this signing could pay short-term dividends. The only question left, then, is whether short-term dividends are what the Rangers should be looking for at this point.
Jones will be paid a miniscule $1 million if he plays regularly, and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is very possibly the best in the business, specifically with respect to resurrecting swings. Further, Jones was signed to a minor-league deal, giving the Rangers until the end of spring training to decide whether or not Jones is a viable option for their already crowded outfield.
Critics of the deal will quickly point out that the team is rebuilding, and the at-bats should go to younger players. Some will parrot the hackneyed line about Tom Hicks being at it again, signing another old bat for no apparent reason.
On the first point, they may have an argument; the second, however, is patently wrong. The Rangers are risking relatively nothing here. Namely, this deal is win-win. If Jones impresses in Surprise, Ariz., he will provide the Rangers with a solid right-handed bat (which they need) and a 10-time gold-glover in the outfield. If not, Jones can go elsewhere and the Rangers will end up exactly as they were, with Murphy and Byrd splitting time in left, Hamilton in center and Nelson Cruz in right.
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Skeptical fans tend to have short memories and Rangers’ fans are nothing if not skeptical. But let’s get optimistic for a moment: In 2007, Jones hit 26 home runs. The year before, he hit 41. The Curacao-native is a 10-time gold glover and a 5-time all-star.
If Jones is, in fact, done at age 31, he will fall into the minutiae of Rangers history; his jersey-shirt will go to the clearance racks and he will be forgotten quickly. If he is not done (and there’s a fair chance he’s not), Texas is looking, potentially, at the greatest steal of this off-season.