Jones wants 'market value' in new deal
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Possibly heading into his final season with the Atlanta Braves, Andruw Jones showed up for spring training Tuesday about 10 pounds lighter and made it clear he'll be looking to get paid "market value" in his new deal.
Jones, entering the final year of his contract, put up 92 homers and 257 RBIs over the past two seasons while extending his Gold Glove streak to nine in a row. But he might be too expensive for the Braves to keep. The team is going through an ownership change and has reduced payroll in recent years.
"I'm under contract to the Braves right now," Jones said. "Hopefully, by the end of the season, we'll be able to accomplish something so I can stay here. I want to be a Brave for life."
While there was a perception that Jones gave the Braves a hometown discount in his last contract, bringing in his father to help with the negotiations instead of agent Scott Boras, it looks as though the center fielder will be looking to get full value this time.
He can't help but notice the lucrative deals that were handed out this offseason, such as Toronto's Vernon Wells getting $126 million over seven years and Alfonso Soriano signing a $130 million, eight-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.
Jones certainly expects to be in the same ballpark.
"It's not about being greedy or humble," he said. "It's a fact: That's what the market is. It could be $50 million a year. It doesn't matter if that's what the market is."
Braves manager Bobby Cox certainly knows that Jones will be difficult to re-sign in the current market, though the prospective new owners could boost payroll if the deal is approved.
"We'll try everything we can to keep him," Cox said. "He's a great talent, but he's got one of the toughest agents to deal with. [Boras] is not afraid to move his players from their home teams."
Jones does intend to remain in Atlanta for at least one more season. He has no-trade privileges and intends to hold the Braves to it, especially after hearing reports last season that he might be dealt.
"I've made it loud and clear: no trade," he said.
Jones certainly seems poised to have another big season, especially after dropping to 225 pounds. He believes it's the lightest he's been since 1999.
"Me and my wife had a competition to see who could lose more weight," Jones said. "She beat me. I partied too hard a couple of times."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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