I have a somewhat unordinary idea here for a free agent acquisition. I know most Dodger fans would disagree with this, but hear me out before you shake your head no.
Last Monday the Pirates designated outfielder Garrett Jones for assignment. The left handed hitting Jones was arbitration eligible (Super two), and the Pirates felt that he would be too expensive to retain. Now if the Pirates don’t end up retaining him, and he does become a free agent, which he would if he clears waivers (after being designated for the specified amount of time), and the Pirates don’t retain him, then perhaps the Dodgers should take a look at him. Jones was due to make 5.3 million in arbitration this winter.
Before you say no way, think about this for a minute. The Dodgers have plenty of outfielders at the moment, but are still in need of a fifth outfielder, or platoon bat outside of the Andre Ethier/Carl Crawford merry-go round. Of course, Jones would have to be ok with a part-time role, but if he is, then this may not be a terrible idea. Remember Matt Kemp is now injury riddled living on the disabled list, and Crawford’s extreme rustiness disallows him from playing in more than 100 or so games per season. Jones could fill in at left field, and even occasionally give Gonzo a spell at first base if needed.
Jones is a 32 year-old outfielder/first baseman, drafted by the Braves in the 14 round of the 1999 amateur draft. He signed with the Pirates in 2008, and had made his MLB debut briefly for the Twins in 2007.
Now I know Jones is not a center fielder, he’s a corner outfielder/first baseman, but he has something the Dodgers could desperately use off of the bench. Power. Jones played with the Pirates from 2008-2013, posting three 20+ home run seasons. Jones hit 21 home runs in 2009 while playing in just 82 games. The slugger hit 21 home runs in 2010 in 158 games, and hit 27 home runs in 145 games played in 2012. There are some issues with him though. His batting, and on-base skills aren’t the greatest, his career .254 batting average, and .289 OBP attest to that. However, Jones has hit 102 career home runs in just six major league seasons. And take note Jones did bat .293 in 2009, and .274 in 2012 if that means anything.
Jones batted .233 in 2013, with a .289 OBP, 15 home runs, and 51 runs driven in, while playing in 144 games, and making 440 plate appearances. He had a down year, but it’s possible he could return to his 20+ home run form. This is a guy who belted 27 home runs just two seasons ago. He’s never hit below 15 in any season. Why not take a flier on him?
Of course his defense leaves much to be desired for. According to defensive runs above average, Jones is a -17 career at right field, and a +1 in left field. He plays best in left, but he’s not a good defensive player. That’s not why he would be brought in. Although Jones played more game at first base, (83), then he did in the outfield, (32) in 2013.
He also has a huge platoon split, with a .193 career average against left handers. I know, I know, he comes with baggage. Poor batting and on-base skills, below average defense, and a massive platoon split. But, he’s got power, and the Dodgers could use more power in their lineup. Especially on a bench that was punchless last season.
I’m not suggesting the Dodgers give him millions of dollars and a long-term contract or anything. Jones made 4.5 million dollars last season with the Bucs, and maybe the Dodgers could throw a couple of million his way on a one-year deal? It’s worth a shot if he can hit with the power the Dodgers need.
I know I’m going to get killed for this suggestion, and this is just my own speculation, as far as I know, the Dodgers have had zero conversations with Jones. So this is all my idea. He was a super two arbitration guy, and has yet to clear waivers to be able to declare free agency. But if he does become available, the Dodgers should take a look at him. Yes I know this is very unorthodox, but sometimes you must have one or two of these Mike Marshall, feast or famine type bats on the roster. The worst that happens is he sucks, and the Dodgers waste a couple of million dollars, and some at-bats before DFA’ing him. Home runs are valuable. This could be a decent move to roll the dice on.
I know everyone is going to scream at me for this, but if the Dodgers can give 162 useless at-bats to the Auto Out, A.K.A. Garret Anderson, then there is no reason they can’t give Jones a shot. Just saying is all. Think about it. And please go easy on me.