May 27, 2012
Even though Adam Jones isn't from Baltimore, he's making sure it'll be home for a while longer.
Jones signed a six-year, $85.5 million contract with the Orioles on Sunday, ensuring that the 26-year-old center fielder will be with the team through 2018.
"I fit here in this city. I fit here on this team. I fit in Camden Yards. I don't see myself wearing another white uniform that doesn't have Orioles across the chest," said Jones, a native of San Diego.
"I'm not from Baltimore. This is now my town."
A fan favorite, Jones entered Sunday with a 17-game hitting streak and leads the team in home runs and RBIs.
Vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette began negotiating a new deal with the 2009 All-Star weeks ago.
Jones' new deal includes a $2 million signing bonus, $8.5 million in 2013, $13 million each in 2014 and 2015, $16 million apiece in 2016 and 2017 and $17 million in 2018. It also includes a no-trade provision.
"The dude rang the cash register every time he hit a home run," Duquette said.
After the Orioles and Jones agreed on a one-year, $6.15 million contract in February, avoiding arbitration, they began exploring an extension.
"We started the process in spring training, and picked up some steam in the last couple of weeks," Duquette said.
Jones has been active in community affairs, something that Duquette referred to several times during Sunday's announcement.
"To have a great team in Baltimore, you have to find and keep players like Adam," Duquette said.
The news conference was attended by a local youth baseball team that Jones sponsors.
"A lot of these kids look up to me, and I am a role model," Jones said.
Jones had one more year before he could have been a free agent, and he acknowledged he decided he wanted to stay in Baltimore some time ago.
"Now, I don't have to worry about trade deadline, free agency," Jones said. "I don't have to worry about any of that, just worry about being a part of the best team in baseball."
The Orioles have suffered through 14 straight losing seasons, and since Jones came to Baltimore in a trade from Seattle in 2008, the team hasn't won even 70 games. Entering Sunday's game with Kansas City, the Orioles lead the AL East with a 29-18 record.
"We have to prove to the fans that we're for real. We're slowing doing it. This is a big step in that right direction," Jones said.
"There's a bigger goal here, I believe, and that's winning games."