Sources: Dodgers look to move Jones

Updated: January 5, 2009, 9:24 PM ET
By Buster Olney | ESPN.com

A month ago, Andruw Jones was considered untradeable within the baseball industry. Now that his contract has been restructured, to make him more affordable to any interested suitors, the Dodgers intend to weigh his market value again, according to baseball sources.

One way or another, the 10-time Gold Glove winner -- who is still just 32 years old -- will be moving on to another team before the start of the 2009 season, the sources say.

Olney: Career over?

It's hard to believe, but Andruw Jones' career is in jeopardy even before he turns 32 years old, Buster Olney writes. Blog

Jones signed a two-year, $36.2 million deal with the Dodgers before last season, but struggled from the outset and in 209 at-bats he hit just .158 with three homers, 33 hits and 76 strikeouts. By season's end, he was away from the team.

The Dodgers spoke with a number of teams early in this offseason to gauge possible trade interest and found almost none, except in cases in which other teams were looking to move their own bad contracts -- such as the Mets, with second baseman Luis Castillo.

Under the original terms of his contract, Jones earned $9 million in 2008 and was set to make $15 million in 2009. He also had been set to receive $2.1 million in a signing bonus in 2009 and another $5 million in 2010.

Jones indicated to the Dodgers he wanted to be traded and asked them how he could facilitate that possibility, sources say. Under the terms of the restructured deal, Jones will be paid the $15 million in salary over the next six seasons with no interest, sources say.

Andruw Jones

Jones

The deal will save the Dodgers about $12 million in salary for 2009; according to the Los Angeles Times, Jones will earn about $5 million in 2009.

MLB.com reported the Players Association has approved the deal because Jones will not give back salary and because he is gaining something he wants and needs -- an exit from L.A.

Even at that greatly reduced rate, the Dodgers may find it difficult to trade Jones in a winter in which the prices on outfielders have dropped markedly. Other teams have tried trading outfielders -- such as the Royals, with Jose Guillen -- without success.

The Braves, Reds and Mets expressed varying degrees of interest in making a deal for Jones this offseason, and the Dodgers are expected to talk again with those clubs.

The Mets' interest all along was predicated on the Dodgers absorbing Castillo's contract, and on Saturday morning a source with knowledge of the trade talks said even with Jones' salary reduced for 2009, the team is virtually certain to pass on a deal for the outfielder.

Jones had been playing in winter ball, but he left his team in the Dominican Republic on Sunday to be with his sick wife in the United States. Scouts say Jones has continued to struggle. He hit only .166 for Aguilas Cibaenas with one RBI and 12 strikeouts. There are many questions among talent evaluators about Jones' physical condition, and whether he will ever be in the kind of shape required for him to be a strong defensive outfielder again.

Jones has always had difficulty coping with breaking pitches low and away but never more so than last season, when his strikeout problem became acute and greatly affected his confidence, some scouts believe.

If the Dodgers can't find a trade partner, they are likely to soon release Jones -- a borderline Hall of Fame player with 371 career homers -- and he would be free to sign elsewhere for the $400,000 minimum.

In other news, right-hander Claudio Vargas and the Dodgers agreed to a one-year contract Monday. The 30-year-old Vargas went 3-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 11 appearances, including four starts, with the New York Mets last season.

Vargas averaged nearly 11 wins per season from 2005-07 and won a career-high 12 games for Arizona in 2006. The following year, he was 11-6 with a 5.09 ERA for Milwaukee.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from ESPNdeportes.com's Enrique Rojas and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine

ALSO SEE