Andruw, Dodgers reach agreement
Deal calls for two years and $36.2 million, per a baseball official
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Dodgers landed the bat they've been seeking, reaching agreement on Wednesday night with free-agent outfielder Andruw Jones on a two-year, $36.2 million contract, according to a baseball official. The deal is contingent on Jones passing a physical exam.
Jones, a 10-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All Star, will take over center field, with Juan Pierre likely moving to left.
The negotiations, which appeared to be moving at a snail's pace over the first three days of the Winter Meetings, reached a rapid conclusion on Wednesday night. The short-term deal will allow Jones to rehabilitate his stats in time for another bite at the free-agent apple while still in his prime.
The market for Jones had been underwhelming in the wake of the worst season of his career -- .222 average, 26 homers, 94 RBIs. He also had interest from the Kansas City Royals.
Jones' former Braves teammates, however, indicated that he preferred to stay in the National League and was getting antsy for a resolution. Another former Atlanta teammate, Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, placed more than one recruiting phone call to Jones, understandable because they were the closest of friends when they played together.
Jones, 30, is the big bat Colletti has been seeking since taking over two years ago, especially if his 2007 performance is an aberration compared with the previous two seasons, when he slugged 92 homers with 257 RBIs. The Dodgers made a run at acquiring Jones a year ago, but Jones would not waive a no-trade clause.
Jones will earn $9 million in 2008 and $15 million in 2009, and will receive a $12.2 million signing bonus, including $200,000 to be donated to the Dodgers Dream Foundation, spread over the term.
What happened to Jones in 2007? Trying to play with a secretly hyper-extended elbow didn't help, but such decisions are commonplace with free agency looming.
Jones recorded a .263 career batting average with 368 home runs, 1,117 RBIs, a .342 on-base percentage and a .497 slugging percentage in 12 big league seasons with the Braves.
The native of Curacao finished second in National League MVP voting in 2005 after leading the Majors with 51 homers and leading the NL with 128 RBIs. Over the past 10 seasons, in addition to earning a Gold Glove each year, Jones has averaged 35 home runs and 103 RBIs, and he has topped the 25-homer mark in each of those campaigns.
In his 12 Major League seasons, Jones has appeared in the postseason 10 times, hitting .273 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs in 17 playoff series.
Since his first full season in the Majors, in 1997, Jones has appeared in more games than any other big league player (1,730), and he has never spent time on the disabled list. His 363 homers during that period are the eighth-most in baseball, behind Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Delgado and Vladimir Guerrero. He also ranks eighth among all Major Leaguers with 1,104 RBIs during that span.
Jones has registered 101 assists since 1997, the most of any big league center fielder, and his 4,486 putouts since reaching the big leagues are tops among all Major League outfielders by more than 500 (Johnny Damon ranks second, with 3,980).
Jones reached the Major Leagues as a 19-year-old in 1996, and was the youngest player in baseball that season when he became the first NL player and the second in Major League history to homer in his first two World Series at-bats. He was the youngest player to ever homer in the Fall Classic (19 years, five months, 27 days) and remained the youngest player in baseball the following year in 1997, when as a 20-year-old, he finished fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.