First Pitch: A Garrett Jones Trade Might Not Be a Guarantee

Throughout most of the off-season, it seemed inevitable that the Pittsburgh Pirates would trade Joel Hanrahan. There also seemed to be a strong possibility that Garrett Jones could be traded. In both cases we heard plenty of rumors about each player. Both players were due for a raise in arbitration. There was a good reason behind the idea of a trade for each player. But that didn’t mean they were both guaranteed to be traded.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had an update on Jones recently.

The Red Sox and Pirates never got deep into discussions of first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones during the Joel Hanrahan trade talks because, according to a major league source, “The Pirates really valued Jones highly.” Jones seemed to be a good fit for the Sox.

A Hanrahan trade made sense. The Pirates didn’t have a history of paying closers. It could also be argued that a small market team spending 10% of their payroll on a closer is a bad strategy. It was hard to envision Hanrahan remaining on the team heading into the season.

Jones might not be a guarantee to be traded. - Photo by Mark Olson

Jones might not be a guarantee to be traded. – Photo by Mark Olson

A Jones trade also would make sense. He’s coming off a year where he hit for a .274/.317/.516 line with 27 homers in 475 at-bats. But that follows two almost identical years where he combined for a .245/.312/.422 line, with home run totals of 16 and 21. There’s a chance that he could be at his highest value right now, set to regress back to those 2010-11 numbers. There’s also the chance that he could repeat his 2012 numbers, which would make him a huge bargain at his projected $4.4 M salary. If that wasn’t a possibility, he wouldn’t have any trade value.

Don’t confuse Jones trade rumors with an idea that Jones is as good as gone. We’ve been hearing Jones trade rumors for a while, and each time the story is the same: the Pirates have a high value on Jones. The Angels tried to get him in 2010, and again in 2011. Each time the Pirates had a high value on Jones, either refusing to part with his power bat, or asking for a price that the Angels didn’t want to match. Earlier in the winter we heard that the Pirates asked for Taijuan Walker in a deal for Jones, but that they were rebuffed by Seattle.

For three years we’ve heard Jones in rumors. And for three years we’ve heard that the Pirates have a high value on Jones. This news from Cafardo is just more of what we’ve heard before. I said earlier in the off-season that I would be surprised if Joel Hanrahan was on the team on Opening Day. On a similar note, I wouldn’t be surprised if Garrett Jones was on the team on Opening Day. When you consider the asking price for Jones, and you consider that the Pirates have been holding to their high value for three years, it doesn’t seem likely that a deal will happen. The only way a deal could happen is if the Pirates lowered their value, or another team met their price. Neither has happened in the last three years, and I’d be surprised at this point if either situation happened this off-season.

Links and Notes

**The 2013 Prospect Guide is now available. Go to the products page of the site and order your copy today!

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**Pirates Interested in Shaun Marcum.

**Pirates and Francisco Liriano Still Talking.

**Pirates Sign Australian Pitcher Nick Hutchings.

**Winter Leagues Recap: Welch Drives In Three.

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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